Friday, 19 September 2014
Hungry for Transformation
Have the changes you need to make in your life piled up? Mine have.
When that happens, we don’t just need change, we need transformation.
Transformation is nothing less than holistic change from the deepest level of lives–“a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” It’s not just cleaning up the mess. It’s changing what causes the mess in the first place.
Change of that magnitude feels overwhelming. Where do I start? How do I keep going? When do I get to stop? Those are the questions I’ve been asking recently.
This year I don’t need to lose weight, I need to feel better. An auto-immune disease began to produce pain in my body that had to be addressed. That much was clear.
Over the course of a year I moved step by step into treatments until I arrived at the Autoimmune Paleo diet. Just reading about the restrictions I would need to make made my heart sink. I can’t do this. At least not now. There was so much going on in my life I couldn’t manage the time or mental space to follow all the rules. Then came the holidays, which is not the time to restrict all of your favorite foods.
So, you guessed it, January 1 was when I started the diet.
The hardest part so far hasn’t been the planning or the shopping or the cooking or the time it all takes. The hardest part has been my mindset. It’s an elimination diet. My focus has been on all the things I have to give up.
Then one day I read these words in a recommended cookbook:
“Food provides all of the building blocks used to make every cell, tissue, organ, and structure in our bodies.” (my emphasis)
That’s a dramatic way of putting it. I kept reading.
“Food provides all of the raw materials for the millions of chemical reactions happening inside our bodies in every moment.” (my emphasis)
I began to form a mental picture of the pivotal role of food in my physical health. Then she added:
“And food provides the energy needed to sustain life.”
I put the book down. Wow. I am doing my body a great favor by upgrading the quality of food I’m putting into it. I feel better just thinking about it.
Suddenly the change became not about what I was giving up, but about what I could expect to gain.
The same positive change is pitched by the Apostle Paul in the letter he wrote to the church in Rome.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” Romans 12:2.
Spiritual transformation is what he promises. How? Not by what we take into our digestive system, but by what we take into our minds—the mouth of our souls.
Paul had written a long letter to Rome, explaining the Christian faith in more detail than in any other letter he wrote. Having said all that, what did he tell them to do with it? He wrote a long list of wonderful “to do’s” starting in Romans 12, but the first one had to do with what they–and we–are to feed our minds.
Spiritual transformation starts with the work of Christ for me, making me a new creation. But it grows as I feed my mind with his finished work. Scripture is where I find this wholesome, life-sustaining, nutrient-rich, cell-repairing nutrition for my soul.
This isn’t news to most of us. We’ve tried both diets and Bible studies and found them a challenge to our self-discipline. We eventually quit. Why should this time be any different?
What will help me keep going long after the novelty has worn off?
- Grace motivation
- Christ-centered interpretation
- Gospel application
Grace motivation means the smell of the food draws me to the table. Every page of the Bible contains hidden morsels of God’s grace. The prospect of finding and tasting them motivates me to embark on the search today and again tomorrow.
Christ-centered interpretation means the Messiah, the One I’ve been waiting for, is there to meet me. Every page of the Bible contains a new picture of Jesus and his saving work. The prospect of seeing him drives me to understand the page I’m reading today.
Gospel application means I take the good news with me when I get up from the table. Every page of the Bible reminds me of what God has done for me and in me. The prospect of being nourished and transformed for the day (or night) ahead fills me with expectation that I will receive all I need.
Taste his grace. See Jesus. Hear his good news. That’s not just what this blog is about, it’s the unfolding message of the Scriptures.
If you’re looking for something to study, grab a friend and join us as we study my book, Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ.
We’ll start Chapter 1 together next week.