Today is the day after Thanksgiving. Instead of trying to find bargains and dealing with the craziness of Black Friday I’m spending some peaceful time with my family. So no, this blog is not about how I pepper sprayed a man at Best Buy over a PS3, sorry, maybe I’ll do that next year
Earlier today I figured it may be a good idea to run based on the amount of food I consumed yesterday (I heard the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, I had to be at about 6,000). Anyways, there is a lot of beautiful farmland near where my folks live, so every time I run out here I take some time to clear my thoughts and soak it all in.
Lately my thoughts have been all over the place. I’ve been so complacent and it’s been very difficult to focus. After devoting so much attention/energy/dedication to making the record and going on tour it’s been tough to be motivated. So while I was running I was praying that God would be a magnet that would draw my thoughts together into sequence and line them up with His truth. I prayed that God would magnetically center Himself and all of my thoughts would revolve around Him. Not sure about you, but my default setting is COMPLETELY selfish. I’m naturally self-centered and self-absorbed. Not only was I an only child growing up, but I am a fallen person born into a fallen world. So it is not my first natural instinct to care more about God or other people than I care about myself. I desire to be more like Jesus, and He is transforming me each day, but until I die I’m still stuck in this human body and my old instincts will combat with my new desires.
So anyways, I got to the halfway point of my run and turned around, only to feel a fierce wind start pushing against me. I didn’t realize it but for the first half of my run the wind was at my back. It was aiding me, but I didn’t even know it. Now, when I turned around, it was pushing against me, noisy and annoying. I realized it right away, the minute we choose to seek after the Living God, we start going against culture, against our old/natural instincts, and against evil. When we desire to walk towards Jesus, the currents of our old nature, worldly patterns and opposition start flowing against us. We are walking upstream. We are running against the wind.
I remember vividly years ago I went on a missions trip to Amsterdam. I may have blogged about this before, can’t remember. Anyways, I went out early with my pastor to help get some things set up. We were walking around Dam Square and it was just a normal sun-shiny day. And my pastor said, “Lets start praying for this city, for these people.” I can’t fully describe to you what happened, but as SOON as we started praying it was like we were walking against this current, like we were going against the grain. We felt this darkness, and it was like everybody was walking in the opposite direction we were. I truly believe that was spiritual warfare. The moment we switched over from tourists walking along enjoying the day and started praying that God would open the eyes of people and shine His light into darkness, we started becoming aware of that darkness and we were walking/crashing right into it. It was a bit intimidating, but perfect love casts out fear.
The verse that I probably think about more often than any other is Romans 12:2. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” There is a flow of this world, “a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). There is a wind that blows and pushes us in a direction, a broad gate: the trends, self-centered driven course of mankind. But it leads to emptiness, wanting more, dissatisfaction.. It’s FALLEN. It’s DEPRAVED. God has created a NEW world, a way to bring everything back (eternally) the way He originally created it to be. But darkness has deceived us, so many of us are blind being led by the blind, going with the flow, following the trends, lusting after the flesh… Be transformed by the renewing of your mind: God’s light and truth is a magnet that can line up our thoughts, renew the way we think/see, and transform/change us, it’s miraculous. A process called sanctification.
What is even more amazing about Romans 12:2 is the second half: “Then you will be able to test and approve what GOD’s WILL is -His good, pleasing and perfect will.” I think most of us never get to experience, test and approve God’s perfect and pleasing will because we’re not willing to give up our own. We don’t really trust or believe that His is better than ours. Or deep inside we know it’s going to hurt a little if we yield to God, so we throw away the best reward!! The reason I type this blog is because there have been moments/seasons where I have experienced God’s will and they have been the sweetest and most fulfilling times of my life – “good, pleasing and perfect”. And I have spent a lot of moments/seasons being selfish and miserable knowing that God’s way is so much better than my own. I think it’s because I’ve “TASTED and SEEN that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), so now I’ll always be dissatisfied with life apart from Him. Once you taste something truly great, it changes your taste buds. Good coffee has ruined me, I’m a coffee snob now
I pray today that your eyes/thoughts may not be so consumed/distracted by trends/fads/culture that you miss out on true life, true fulfillment, true purpose, God’s LOVE. That we truly can be transformed by His helping us to renew our minds, and that we can taste and experience, test and approve God’s original intentions for us and not be slaves to our old instincts that lead to nothingness. It is a lifelong process, a marathon, not a sprint. So be encouraged if you feel like you’re running against the wind. For running against the wind builds character, and God is ahead of us and behind us when we are inside of His perfect will (though we are far from perfect, we continue to strive to submit, His grace is sufficient). Enjoy the rest of this Thanksgiving weekend!!