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I am feeling my mortality.
On the one hand, I look back at my life and see a thousand mistakes I have made. Ways I went down the wrong path and got myself lost. It is hard to look, because the roads had consequences, ones I cannot now go back and change.
On the other hand, I look ahead and want the dreams I’ve carried all my life—but now, for the first time, see clearly—to be fulfilled. I realize I must change, if those dreams are to occur.
How do I change?
This month I am preaching from Ephesians, chapters 4 to 6. “. . . put off your old self,” the author writes, “. . . and put on your new self . . .” (4:22-4) That is exactly what I want, and what I find so hard to do. The old ways of being “me” are ingrained, like the blood in me; like my breathing.
The ideals presented by the author startle me. “. . . live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (4:1), the author writes, urging me to be humble, gentle, patient. “Speak the truth in love” (4:15), something I now see as so important; yet I find either I am unable to tell my family and friends the truth of how I am feeling, or I do so without love. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” (5:8) “Stand your ground.” (6:13)
I try to change, but I find the pull of the old me daunting. Sometimes overwhelming.
In the midst of the ideals and the admonitions, I find hope in the God-centered frame of it all.
“. . . Rise from the dead,” the author says (5:15); but that is of course exactly what I cannot do. Only God can raise the dead. So it is God who will have to make the changes in me.
And all three persons of the Trinity act to change me. I am surrounded by their changing efforts and power. Prayer connects me to God the Father, who goes ahead of me; I follow, and develop a heart of gratitude. (5:15, 20) Christ indwells me. He shines his light on me and gives me his strength. (4:13, 15; 5:14; 6:10) God the Spirit fills me and gives me power to defeat those things which pull me down. (5:17; 6:17)
Slowly, I grow up into Christ’s likeness. (4:13, 15)
The three persons of the Trinity affect the resurrection of me from the dead. They transfer me from my old self to my new self.
What it all means, I believe, is that the roads toward the God-filled life . . . toward “a life of love” that fulfills my heart (5:2) . . . become more visible, and I become more able to do them.
An ability that is the gift of this triune God who goes before me, and who indwells me. (6:19)
It is the divine gift of a new life.