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  • Will Johns

Renewed

I'm still thinking about the post I made last week, Unseen. It dawned on me that focusing on the unseen--what God is doing in my life--is what has kept me going through this pandemic. But there is another part of last week's passage that I wanted to say more about this week. The part about how "inwardly we are being renewed day by day." I don't know about you, but I have really needed inward renewal recently. So let's explore this concept more.


The apostle Paul gives us more insight about renewal here in Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.‬‬‬‬”

"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." That's the phrase I want to explore more deeply. What does that mean? For starters, I think it is a call to pay attention to what we are paying attention to. I'm currently teaching my 15 year old son to drive. One of the lessons I emphasize with him is "look where you want the car to go." If he looks out the side window, it doesn't take long before the car starts to veer in that direction. But when he looks straight ahead at the middle of the road, he able to easily keep the car in his lane. This brings up a good question: Are you currently focusing on where you want to go?


The outside world has so many ways it can keep us from focusing our minds on God. If I'm not careful, I can quickly find myself looking every direction but where I want to go. Sometimes I try to look 3 miles ahead and see what's coming. But that usually just makes me anxious. Plus it keeps me out of the present moment and what I need to do now. Sometimes I'm tempted to look behind me and lament the mistakes I made in the past. Or I feel a sense of nostalgia for "the good ole days" that really weren't that good. Or I look to the sides to see what threats might be lurking for me. There may be a time for looking in all of these directions, but we can't live in this way. I remember many years ago when I was going through a very anxious time in my life. One thing that always brought me back was an email devotional that I had subscribed to. Many times I wouldn't even open it, but when I took the time to read it, I instantly felt better. I felt more peace. It was because my mind was being renewed. Maybe that's why years later I felt called to offer something similar in the form of this blog?

By fixing our eyes on the unseen, looking to see what God is doing in our lives, we find our way forward. This mental focus renews our minds. We find hope and courage to do what needs to be done today. We let go of fear and find faith in the midst of challenges and trials. Our renewed minds are more in tune with the things of God. We care more about people than we do about getting everything on our to do list done. Our renewed minds help us to let go of hurry and worry. We can let go of anxiety and find peace.


So how do you do it? You start by intentionally setting aside time that helps you see the unseen. For me, that involves solitude and silence. My daily walk in the woods is the the activity that allows me to set aside the cares of the day and bask in God's presence. In this time of solitude and silence my mind is renewed. You have to figure out for yourself what renews your mind. Don't be afraid of the trial and error method. Maybe it is taking time to write in a prayer journal. Maybe reading the Scriptures. Maybe sitting quietly in God's presence. When you find the thing that works for you, keep doing it! Having a renewed mind is a priceless gift in this volatile world.

I would invite you this week to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Commit to figuring out what practices will help you most with this. Then, just do it. And see what happens. I think you'll be glad you did.

May you be renewed by grace this week.



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