Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece
There's nothing like living overseas and getting to spend Spring Break in another country.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Battle for the Mind

I consider the second half of 2011 to have been full of bad news. It began with the news that a relative in her mid-40s passed away after a 3 year battle with cancer. Followed by news of another 40 year old diagnosed with a serious cancer situation and then my roommate's dad died unexpectedly months before his 60th birthday. Add to that, several more friends began their battles with cancer - two of whom are in their 30s. And finally, Checkers, "the wonder-dog," struggled with several tumors and melanoma of the mouth, and as sad as that is, the reality is that he is 15 years old and these things should be expected. Checkers is fine for now, by the way, and has resumed his investigations of the backyard! 2012 started similarly with one of my closest friends beginning her battle with breast cancer and several other friends with scary health concerns.

I just got off the phone with an old friend from college. We had much to catch up on and our conversation was full of heavy things, but she helped me put words to what I have been wrestling with for the past several months. It was a great reminder of reality: we live in a cursed land and only through Jesus do we have any hope to navigate a world we were not made to live in.

Genesis 1 and 2 tell us of the beautiful, perfect world God created for us to live in and of our unblemished beginning. The world our hearts long for and know is out there somewhere. But tucked in Genesis 3 is the reason why we are constantly faced with the reality it is not hear now and never will be. Because of the disobedience of the first man and woman, we were cursed but the land was also cursed. The Garden of God's perfection is where we were created to live. Whether we realize it or not, our hearts long for that perfect place of eternity with God. We know in the core of our being that none of the things around us are right, not really. We long for perfection, no pain, no sorrow, no suffering, but only get glimpses of it. Jesus give us more: hope of eternity with God in the new heaven and earth of Revelation 21.

Galatians 1:4 says, "[Jesus] gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." And because of what happened in Genesis 3, satan is called “the god of this world,” and his main aim is to blind people to truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). One of the greatest ways to do that is through deception, especially the deception that all of our hope is in what the world has to offer. So if satan is the "god of this world," then I must choose not to buy into its messages and hope in it. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” John Piper in The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, calls this the resounding cry of freedom and calls us to "be free! Don't be duped by the gurus of the age."

Unfortunately, we live in a world that demands perfection now, ease and pleasure now. I have gotten sucked in myself. I have been tempted to think about the injustices in the lives around me and focus on discouragement and questioning God. I have forgotten the truth of our situation that the world wants us to forget. It is cursed and can offer us no hope, nothing good. Only God can give good things. My hope has to be in Him. Based on Genesis 3, the bad things of this world should not be a surprise to me. It is easy to expect that the good in the world is the norm but really all the good and blessings in my life should be reminders of God's grace to us in a the midst of a fallen world. I must keep renewing my mind with truth: that that we were created for eternity, for heaven and our time on earth can be discouraging or hopeful depending on where I fix my gaze. C. S. Lewis simplifies it this way: "Aim at heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you get neither."

Recommended Reading for Renewing the Mind

Besides reading the Bible, here are a few books I have found helpful:

Knowing God by J. I. Packer

When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

The Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

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