It’s been forty years since I prayed the sinner’s prayer, but I still remember the beauty of the moment. It felt like God was wrapping me up in a blanket of love.
I was at a David Wilkerson crusade, down on the stage with a bunch of kids who were emptying their pockets of drug paraphernalia and giving their lives to Jesus.
I felt a little out of place, but I was happy to be there. I wanted Jesus. And He wanted me – that was the great thing.
I couldn’t wait to get home and start working on our relationship. I bought a little book by Leighton Ford called “Letters to a New Christian,” and I was set to go.
He didn’t disappoint.
Jesus was everything I had hoped He would be and more. I loved spending time with Him. Loved reading my Bible. Loved just sitting with Him.
As vividly as I remember those early days, I have no recollection of when I started to walk away from Him.
I don’t remember when quiet times became a duty rather than a delight. Or when the same goal began surfacing year after year on my New Year’s resolutions list: start having quiet times.
Like the church in Ephesus, I had lost my first love. And even though it came back sporadically for the next twenty-five years, for the most part it was a duty-driven relationship.
Don’t get me wrong—I was still a “good Christian.”
I went to church, stayed away from the Christian no-nos, and even led Bible studies. But I wasn’t in love with God, and I wasn’t experiencing victory over my sins and bad habits.
Until about ten years ago.
The Secret to Transformation
That’s when God showed me the secret, not only to an intimate walk with Him, but also to breaking free from my bad habits and sins.
The secret is found in Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
How did I miss that verse? It tells us what to do if we want to be transformed.
The only thing I can say in my defense is that I was blinded by unrealistic expectations.
Let Go and Let God
You see, I was expecting God to change me automatically, with no effort on my part. After all, I was a Christian. Isn’t that what God did for Christians?
I waited . . . but nothing happened.
Make a Plan and Conquer
So I took matters into my own hands.
Surely I could drum up enough will power for a few minor changes: Learn to be nice, for example. Stop complaining. Have a regular quiet time.
As it turns out, no, I couldn’t.
The Renewing of the Mind
Nothing worked until I did what the Bible was telling me to do all along: I started to renew my mind.
And that’s when God began to change me.
If you haven’t yet learned or practiced this discipline, I hope you’ll give it a try. We’ll get into the nuts and bolts of the renewing of the mind in the next few weeks.
In my next post, I’ll provide some questions and Bible verses for further reflection.
Karen Foster says
Your comments are spot on! Discipline is like a dance. We move close to the Lord, stay close as we waltz through each day. And when we stray from him …..we miss His fellowship and return sooner to His side. Because His presence makes all the difference in our lives.
I’m glad He’s your first love again. It’s evident in your blog.
Ah, I love how you put that, Karen. That is exactly what it feels like. A dance. Interestingly, during some of the times in my life when it’s been the most difficult to submit to God because life wasn’t giving me what I wanted – those were the times I actually pictured myself dancing with Him. And the intimacy was always worth the pain.