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. — Romans 12:2

These devotionals have been encouraging me to…pause…to reflect…to take stock in how I am responding to Jesus…His Word, His Love, and His Grace.  To be candid that is the reason these devotionals are being written so that together we can all pause in this crazy, busy, divided, and mixed up world of ours.  Without pausing, reflecting, meditating, musing, ruminating…however you want to say it, there will be no change in our lives.  Period.  No Transformation. Not being conformed to the image of Christ. (Rom 8:29)  Without taking the time out of our busy lives to reflect and respond to grace, to reflect and respond to what we sense the Holy Spirit is whispering to us, it will become another mere mental exercise, instead of a walk down a new path, a new path that is uncomfortable, because it is just that…NEW.  

If you have ever tried anything new, and we ALL have, you know what I am talking about.  Thank God none of us can remember the first time we tried to walk, or we may have given up because we spent more time on our butt than our feet.  Or how about the first time you tried to downhill ski…or skate… or run any kind of distance, or more difficult things like, learn a new language, start a career, or start a relationship or decide to start a family.  The most important things in life REQUIRE CHANGE, serious change, though it can bring great joy and fulfillment, it is inevitably fraught with some sort of personal pain.  To truly change requires letting go of something that is either holding us back or outright hurting us, and embracing something new, if not new, then uncomfortable.  However, if we by God’s grace can see and understand that the way forward, the way of being made whole and becoming more like Jesus, involves pain, then I think we will be more inclined to embrace change.  

I learned a long time ago that Christianity is not about gathering truths in our heads, it’s about living truths from our hearts.  That 18” journey truth has to make from our head to our heart is a lot farther and takes a lot longer than any of us want to admit.  The reason it seems so far and takes so long is that it involves something none of us look forward to, P A I N.   Pain that, if we’re honest, we would much rather avoid.  For me, there is only one way to spell change, true change, and that is P A I N.    

When Paul pens the litany of suffering he endured for the sake of Christ in 2Cor. 11:23-28, he provides the context by which he was able to endure such afflictions when he writes “Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.” (MSG)  Giving even more perspective on what motivated him to endure change and consequential pain, Paul writes a little earlier in the same letter, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.  These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.”  2 Cor 4 (MSG)   Somehow Paul had such a deep revelation that to confront sin in the world and in our own hearts it would cost him something, something he chose to embrace because of the change it brought him personally and those he loved.  Change that produced the life of Christ in him and consequently those he served. (2Cor 4:11-12)

I remember reading a story some time ago about a world-renown concert pianist who was widely acclaimed and was invited to play at nearly every well-known concert hall in the world.  After an exhausting performance one evening where people were mesmerized by how incredible the concert was, a certain admirer, after waiting in a long line, made their way to the famous pianist and said, “I would give anything to play like that…I would give my life to play like that.”  The tired performer looked up at the admiring and aspiring pianist and wearily said, “I did, I did give my life to play like that.”  

We’ve all heard the expression, “no pain, no gain.”  Well, I’d like to revise that a little, “no pain, no change.”

Exercise:  What change is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart about?  What choices are you making to follow what the Holy Spirit is whispering?  How is the 18” journey of truth from the head to the heart going for you?  Are you ready for some ‘new’ ways of thinking and living that will inevitably cause discomfort/pain?  

PRAYER:  Holy Spirit please help me embrace what you are speaking to my heart.  Help me be more willing to embrace the change necessary to love better, forgive completely, and trust you more, despite what it may cost me, or the temporary pain it may cause.  I want to love You more than I love my present way of thinking and living, so I cry out to You…one more time…visit me and strengthen me to more fully embrace change.  Change that hurts but also heals.  

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. — Isaiah 43:18-19