Yesterday after school, a student came to me and told me about a defining moment in his life that occurred last weekend. Apparently, God met him so powerfully in the most random of circumstances. When he spoke with his youth pastor afterwards, it was confirmed that the Lord had broken off a powerful chain that had held him captive for years. The student was very excited to tell me this story.
Though that's a great story, my first words were words of caution. "You have to keep walking this out," I told him. God can break chains in a single moment, but if we don't do our part of walking it out, those chains can bind us again. An alcoholic can be broken from an addiction, but if they keep frequenting bars or sipping champagne, that addiction can come back, often stronger than before.
To me, walking it out means renewing your mind. I was reading a Lysa TerKeust book the other day (love her!), and she had written about the human brain. Scientists have discovered that when we have a thought, a line is carved into some part of the brain. If we don't think that thought again, the line basically disappears. But if we have the same thought over and over, the line chisels deeper and deeper until it stores into our memory. And when it carves deep enough, it becomes a natural thought for us. Our brain automatically finds it.
I probably explained most of that incredibly incorrectly. You can google it yourself.
But anyway, the only way to erase those deeply embedded thoughts is to think new thoughts and establish new patterns in our brain.
We do this by reading God's word. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Not only does this confirm the need to renew, it gives us the hope that it is possible!
As I explained all this to my student, I was hit deeply that this is another one of those truths that I know, but I don't KNOW. I don't live this way. I dwell on old thoughts. I dwell on unhealthy thoughts. I'm not taking "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).
Question: Why not?
Answer: Because it's easier to stay the same.
Old thoughts are easier because they're already engraved! New thoughts mean starting over. It's a long, tedious process. It takes time to replace years and years of wrong thinking.
But it is possible. And when we take the time, when I take the time, then I will be able to "test and approve what God's will is" (Romans 12:2b).
New year. New thoughts. Bring. It. On.