Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 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.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
So, Paul has twice mentioned renewing our minds. But how do we do that?
WE don’t. WE can’t. If I could have renewed my mind to a depression-free state, I would have – a long time ago.
Paul didn’t say, “renew your mind.” Paul said, “be transformed” and “be made new.” So my part in this is not to find some way to change my own mind. My part is to build my relationship with my loving Father, my Savior Jesus, and the precious Holy Spirit, and allow myself to be transformed by continually being in their presence.
When we engage in true and proper worship, by offering our whole lives to God (Romans 12:1), we are transformed.
This is where the daily disciplines of reading, speaking, and meditating on God’s Word comes in.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Bible IS Jesus. I keep coming back to this, because it is the foundation of my recovery.
God’s Word IS God, so when I expose my broken mind to the Almighty God – through His Word – then my mind is transformed. I’m not doing the transforming; God is. But I’m doing my part by exposing my mind to the transforming power of God.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
When I expose my mind to the Word of God, He can show me where my soul is not agreeing with my spirit. When I bring my heart to the Word of God, He can show me where my thoughts are not agreeing with His.
Oh great. That’s just what I want to hear when I’m depressed or anxious – that I’m being judged.
Except it’s not like that.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
God’s Word doesn’t show us where we missed it so that we can be punished. He empathizes with our weaknesses and gives us mercy and grace to help us through.
And that’s transformational. The more often I take my depression to God and am met with empathy, mercy, and grace, the more open I become to bringing all my pains and weaknesses to Him. And the more often I come to His throne, the more I am changed.
That’s true and proper worship.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The truth is I’m weak. The truth is also that He is strong. And when I bring my weaknesses to Him, He transforms them.
II Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I don’t like this verse, because I don’t like being weak. But when I acknowledge that my weaknesses are what bring me to His throne – because I so desperately need His mercy and grace – then I can let go of needing to be strong in and of myself. And when I do that, I have opened the door for Him to fill me with His strength.
Mental illness is a fact. Through God’s Word, I have the opportunity to bring that fact to the throne of God’s grace and allow Him to cover my illness with His mercy and grace. And I come away transformed. My mind is no longer fighting this illness alone.
Depression and bipolar disorder may have made me weak, but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. When I do my part and bring my weaknesses to His throne, His strength does what I can’t and I am helped.
How have God’s mercy and grace covered your weaknesses?
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