“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
I have a prayer ritual that may sound kind of strange. You see, we live on an ambulance route for our city’s hospital. The sirens used to startle and bother me as the vehicles drove by our house. Then one day as I watched an ambulance whiz by, I decided to pray for whoever was needing it. Since then, I’ve become more aware of things happening to others around me. And though I may not know them or all the facts, I try to take a moment to lift up the situation to God. I like to imagine others might do the same for me.
“…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…”
When I read these words I always picture someone taking off an old coat and replacing it with a bright and clean new one. I’m sure that is what Paul wanted us to imagine. It sounds like a great trade, and an easy task. So why do I still walk around wearing my worn-out coat?
- It’s comfortable. Notice I didn’t say warm, or pretty, or right for me. But that’s how it is with our old ways, isn’t it? I’ll speak for myself and say that my bad habits are deeply ingrained. My stinky attitudes have become familiar friends.
I know it’s time to get rid of that old coat. If I’m honest it doesn’t really fit quite right anymore, and I feel kind of drab in it. But what’s left of my worldly thinking wonders if I could just get the thing dry cleaned instead of trading it in for a whole new model.
- I’m sentimental. My closet has clothes in it that I don’t intend to wear again. They are outdated, or tired-looking or not my style these days. Keeping them is silly, really, but the idea of throwing them out or passing them on leaves me feeling unsettled.
Change can be scary, but it’s usually for the better, at least in the end. But my old self wants to cling to the past, to hold onto what I already understand rather than step into the unknown that lies ahead.
Sorry to carry the metaphor so far, but it really speaks to me.
How about you – have you taken off your old coat yet and handed it over? Or are you choosing to keep the familiar garment even it’s not the best choice for you?
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2
January is here, and with it the first bite of winter weather. I wore 4 layers out on my morning excusion with Marcie, and still shiverred my way through the yard. As I stood waiting for her to sniff over the leaf pile, I couldn’t help but see my breath, which only added to the sense of utter cold.
It occurred to me in that moment how quickly a single thought impacted how I felt. Seeing the steam led to a grumbly “Man it’s cold!”. Saying that made me more aware of the unhappy situation, and I ended up really focused on it.
Joyce Meyer teaches that our thoughts have power. I’m going to amend that a little and say that we can give our thoughts a lot of power. Basically, how we think often has a lot of sway over our mood and attitude. And I wonder – if that works for the negative, as in my example from today, couldn’t it just as easily work in a positive way?
Yes, it can. And the key lies in what thoughts we’re concentrating on. That sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many thoughts we have that we aren’t even aware of. Any one of them, when strong enough or repeated enough, can take root in our minds and then our hearts. This isn’t a random design flaw in us – we were actually created this way.
The more I understand this truth, the more grateful I am for God’s mercy in providing His Word. From promises to proverbs to parables, scripture is filled with things to think about that bring life and joy. So why would I choose the alternative?