Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Transformation in the Process: Responding to Mishaps

~Coast guard headquarters and lighthouse at Point Loma, CA; the Islands in the distance are in Mexico.

So, from the fish market mishap to Wednesday night Bible study...

The topic was "Taking Inventory."

It was a discussion about the inventory of what is within us.

What do I bring to the world? What characteristics, what spirit or attitude, what does my life offer others? How do I affect others?

It is so easy to know what should be in us and therefore assume, of course it is. But we were reminded that night:

1. "Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life" says the Proverb writer. ~Prov. 4:23

2. "Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile a man." Matt. 15:18

3. "We do what we value" ... just another way to say what is in our heart flows out.

I pondered... when Curt accidentally dumped the supper containers on the table, and the cold ice water and greasy tarter sauce spread out over my lap, what did my response of focusing on my discomfort say about what I valued? If I really valued the other person before myself, what would my reaction be?

In response to taking inventory, i.e. watching over my heart with all diligence, I saw I needed to change.

But how do I go about changing?
Some would say I am forever condemned to a life of failure in this area. If so, why would I be admonished to watch over my heart, to be renewed?

Thanks be to God! He whom the Son sets free is free indeed! ~John 8:36
There is hope! There is a way, a plan!

The gospel message is that we do not have to live "according to the flesh." We are to put "to death the deeds of the body" and live! (Romans 8) The flesh--just the natural physical house in which we live--is not evil. The good or evil has to do with my will, my heart--which makes choices. The flesh is simply independent. It felt the cold, greasy mess and said, "I hate this feeling." But the spirit (the will/heart) must respond, "Be silent, flesh. I put you to death. I care about others more than I care about what you feel or what you hate. I will think about them, not how you feel. I will be "led by the spirit of God" for I, more than anything else, want to be His child. As His child, I want His likeness to be seen in me.

The Apostle Paul tells us to "be renewed in the spirit of [our] mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness..." ~Eph.4:23

He tells us in Romans 12:2 that we should "be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind, so that [we] may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

As I took inventory that Wednesday evening, I realized that what proceeded out of my heart (via my attitude) was not in the likeness of God. I was focused on self. I asked God (and Curt) to forgive me and asked God to help me have a change of heart. I made myself accountable to others in our discussion at church. (There is nothing like accountability to others that will motivate you to be honest with yourself and God! I'm so thankful for church family that are living honestly before God just like I desire to. That's the kind of people you can trust in accountability. I realize I am blessed with these people.)

God is helping me. I find my mind going to the perpetrator of "mishaps" almost immediately now, even though it has been a long-term habit of self-focus in this area. What I've experienced so far is this: something happens, I jump--a physical response that is conditioned and will probably take time to smooth out--but then the thought comes, "What's the perpetrator thinking? How does he/she feel? What is a Christlike response?" I'm faced with a choice. With God's help, I have tangible hope of being characterized as a new person when it comes to mishaps.