TRANSFORMED, IT’S REALLY POSSIBLE
Romans 12:1-2 NIV
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Is it really actually possible to be different than we really are? Is it honestly possible to have a wonderfully changed and transformed life? As a young man who had just completely dedicated his whole life to Jesus Christ, this was the cry of my heart. O God change me, transform me! I knew there were so many things in my life and person that God wanted to change. I longed for the transformed life, yet it often seemed so far from my grasp. So beyond my experiential reality.
I began my radical journey of faith at 19 years of age. I was all in, body, soul, and spirit. I gave Jesus everything I had. My talents, my time, my very life, my resources, my passionate love, and my devotion. I prayed, read my Bible, and eagerly shared my faith. Then at 22 years of age, I got married to a wonderful and extraordinary girl named Kathy. I loved her with all my heart, and 43 years later I still do.
Shortly after we were married, however, things started to come out of me that were so repulsive. The man I wanted to be, that I planned on being, seemed to disappear and another man often came out of me. I felt a deep sense of shame for my failings, and over time began to feel hopeless that I could ever change and be truly transformed. It was a weight on my shoulders that with each passing day, felt like it would crush me. I still prayed, I still read my Bible, I still loved my wife, and loved Jesus Christ. But marriage and the crucible that marriage is, brought things out of me that were so ugly, that I felt myself losing hope.
It was a very discouraging time for both Kathy and for me. It culminated one particular evening during my brief hour break between my two jobs, when a friend came over to my house and there on my front porch, rebuked and excoriated me for things he perceived wrong in my life. It was a horrible experience, and one I have never forgotten. It left a deep mark on me.
I went to work that evening at the video arcade where I worked nights and sat on the stool behind the counter as dejected as I had ever felt up to that point in my life. I was crushed and overwhelmed by my hurt, my failings, and the cruelty of what was just inflicted, but also with the stark realization that I was not a truly loving man, at least by the description in 1 Cor. 13:1-8. That night I read that passage over and over again in the Living Bible that I had brought with me, and realized I was that loud clanging cymbal. That obtrusive, obnoxious noise of a man who claimed Christ, but did not know how to truly love my wife as this scripture described. I wept. Right there with people all around, sitting on my stool, I wept. Silently I begged God to change and transform me. I told the Lord I would pay any price, and do anything I needed to do.
For several weeks following, I was extremely dejected and discouraged. I just did not know how to change who I was. I felt so much shame and guilt. One evening I was reading my Bible in 1 John when this verse jumped off the page and hit me like a lightning bolt! We love because He first loved us. I realized at that moment there was a cause and effect principle here, that works this way. When we realize, grasp, and believe God loves us, when we actually experience that love, we then in turn will love others, in the way God loves us, described in those verses in 1 Cor. 13:4-8.
But therein was the problem. I believed the Gospel! I believed Jesus Christ died for my sins. I knew Jesus as my Savior. However, I did not believe he truly loved the man I was with all my failings in my marriage with Kathy. I was ashamed and really believed God was ashamed of me and could not possibly really love me just as I am.
A few nights later, as I sat on that stool behind the counter of that video arcade, I read the verses in Romans at the beginning of this article. This phrase jumped off the page, Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. One Bible translation says, do not let the world squeeze you into its mold, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. That is exactly how I felt, that the old Mark would just grab me by the throat and throw me against the wall and say to me, “You will be impatient, Mark, you will do what your flesh tells you to do right now!” I felt like an addict must feel. So powerless and hopeless.
But, for the first time, I realized there was a secret here, given to us by God. A spiritual formula if you will. That if I renewed my mind with God’s truth, with what God thought about me, what God says about me, what God feels about me, with the real truth of the Gospel, my life, my behavior would be transformed and changed.
I set myself to this task, unlike anything I had ever undertaken before.
I was desperate for change and transformation. At the time, I had no spare money, but I had been given a power drill as a gift. I returned that drill, got the money, and went and purchased a Panasonic walkman, called The Way! It was written right on the front of that little cassette player. I kid you not. I bought extra batteries, and tiny earbuds and went to our church’s tape message library and bought 7 taped messages on the love, and forgiveness of God. I was determined to listen to one of those messages every single day for a year. For 365 days straight, in order to renew my mind, to reprogram my thinking by listening to those messages, and truths. I ended up hearing them almost 14 hours a week for the next year.
I was astounded at the things God began to show me, and the things I began to understand and truly feel and experience. The more I heard and thought about these things, the more I renewed my mind and my thinking, the more my life actually began to change. My attitude and behaviors were slowly but truly transformed, just as the Bible promises.
It was thrilling, and what’s more, it had an immediate and direct impact on my marriage and my relationship with Kathy. More, and more I became that loving man described in 1 Cor. 13:4-8.
It developed in me a habit I have never let go of all these years, and that is the habit of renewing my mind, of training my brain on what I think about, how I think, and daily, sinking my roots of thoughts down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love, as Eph. 3:17-19 NLT tells us to do. And I pray that Christ may be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God!
What are the roots of our life? Our thoughts and beliefs! What we think and believe! The most critical issue of our lives is always, what are we thinking and what are we believing!!!
Dear friends, the renewing of your mind, every single day, is the secret to change and transformation, the single most important discipline of your life.
Perhaps many of you reading this today, have felt hopeless yourself, that your life or marriage can never change, or be transformed. I want to assure you today that God can change anything in your life. Give him your mind, renew your mind with fervent devotion and God will transform your life.
This is in fact why all these years I made my messages and my articles available to anyone who wants to hear them, read them, and use them. It is why they are all available for free on Strongdisciple.com There is nothing more powerful in your life than God’s truth understood, believed, and applied!
The truths in these messages will help you renew your mind and transform your life.
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling