“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.”—Rom. 12:2
A few weeks ago I went to see a chiropractor, hoping he could help me with lower-back pain associated with curvature of the spine. After the exam, he explained how he’d adjust the alignment of my spine, thus relieving the pressure causing the pain. Also, why it takes regular adjustments to retrain the brain, to realign the body. This is because of the natural tendency to revert to the wrong way that it’s been used to.
Whoa—what an analogy for our lives! Have you ever tried to break a bad habit? Establish a productive, life-building, new one? Change anything that needs changing? No sooner do we feel like we’re making progress than a setback or interruption comes and we’re right back to zero improvement. Except it feels worse, due to feelings of guilt, failure, and discouragement added into the mix.
Or perhaps nothing major derails us. But the initial enthusiasm for change wanes like a slow leak from a helium balloon, leaving us deflated, demotivated, and dragged down by inertia.
Either way, we give up and give in to our natural tendency to revert to the wrong habits we’ve grown comfortable with. There we settle, wishing we could do better, but it takes more strength and ability than we have. While it would be beneficial to replace bad habits with good ones, it’s too hard. So we live with the status quo, convincing ourselves that it doesn’t matter so much if our lives aren’t aligned with the way the Lord wants us to live.
But we can only ignore the painful consequences of non-alignment for so long. Especially because it worsens as time goes on. The harmful habits and attitudes deepen, causing greater adverse pressure and harm to our physical, emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual health.
The point at which we realize we’re desperate for change is the point at which it begins. Not by self-effort, though. We already tried that and it didn’t work, or we didn’t try because we figured it wouldn’t work anyway. We need outside help.
We need the Holy Spirit to work in and with us to adjust our thinking and feelings so they align with His perfect will and way. The way that works. The Adjustor helps us to re-train our brain and heart to send the right signals so we get used to the right “posture” (attitude) which in turn leads to healthy “walking” (behavior).
At the same time, we have responsibility to partner in the process. The Spirit doesn’t just “knock us out” and do “brain surgery” on us while we passively lie there, unconscious of what’s happening. We come to the Lord for regular, periodic, adjustments, but then we also need to exercise consistently to make sure the necessary change takes hold. As physical (back) exercise speeds up and strengthens our spinal realignment, mental and spiritual exercise speeds and firms up the emotional and spiritual transformation we desperately seek.
This kind of exercise involves: 1)Scripture reading (2 Tim. 3:16-17); 2)Guarding our thought life, being careful what we contemplate (Phil. 4:8); 3)Watching what we say (Prov. 18:29); 4)Staying plugged into the Power Source through prayer-- talking with and listening to the Lord ((2 Sam. 22:33; Mat. 6:9-13; Rom. 8: 26 (for when we don’t even know how to pray)); 5) Praising, worshiping, and thanking God for Who He is and what He’s done-- keeps our priorities and perspective straight (Ps. 95:1-7); 6)Fellowship with others who have an edifying, influence on us—for encouragement, support, and accountability (Heb. 10:24-25); Other spiritual disciplines.
The best part of these exercises is, the Lord helps us understand and do them.
What kind of pain-inducing pressure are you experiencing due to lack of life-alignment? The Lord invites us to come to Him for help-- He has our back!