Becoming New in Christ
Chaplain Leigh Ann Min
Shelby Baptist Medical Center
"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)
What’s new with you? A new calendar year is beginning and I wonder: are you someone who makes New Year’s resolutions or do you avoid making resolutions because you are not able to keep them? The latter has been true for me, and as I reflect on it, I observe that my pattern is to determine a particular behavior pattern that I want to change. I wonder if I might be more successful, should I make any resolutions this year, if I choose the opposite approach. Rather than asking myself what I want to change or accomplish, what if I consider what God may be making new in my life, my circumstances, or in my thought process and understandings this year and then respond to those discoveries?
As I ponder this idea, I recognize two important tasks we all might work toward in order to become more open to “the new” that God may be doing in our lives. First, in order to stay more present with God, we must spend more time with God: reading, studying and prayerfully reflecting on God’s word. Secondly, we will need to grieve what “has passed away,” to allow room for the “new.” Neither task will be easy to accomplish. But I believe God’s call of discipleship to seek companionship with Christ every day, can provide the energy and discernment we need to say “no” to the many obstacles that may interfere with our engagement of these two important tasks.
Motivational speaker, Stephen Covey, offers these thoughts about how to prioritize what’s important in our daily lives: “The successful person has the habit of doing the things (others) don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either, necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose. That subordination requires a purpose, mission, a clear sense of direction and value, a burning ‘yes!’ inside that makes it possible to say ‘no’ to other things. It also requires independent will, the power to do something when you don’t want to do it, to be a function of your values rather than a function of the impulse or desire of any given moment. It’s the power to act with integrity to your proactive first creation.” I hope to act with integrity as I seek to spend time with God every day. I hope God will inspire us with “a burning yes” as we say ‘no’ to the many distractions in our daily activities which will keep us from the “new” which God is doing.
The second task, to grieve what “has passed away.” The loss we experienced could be anything which attaches us to the past and keeps us from the new things which might come to us in the future – a person a career, marriage, other hopes and dreams. If you find yourself grieving such a loss, you may find these following tips helpful. They are the “Tasks of Mourning” according to J. William Worden.
Task 1: Accept the Reality of the Loss.
Task 2: Process the Pain of Grief.
Task 3: Adjust to the World without the Loss.
Task 4: (If the loss is a person), Find an Enduring Connection with the Deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life.
Perhaps, this year, I will try to focus more on “being” in God’s word and observing what has “passed away” to make room for the “new” which God wishes for my life. May it be so with God’s help.
Prayer: O Lord, thank you for the gift of life in Christ where you are making everything new. Help us to see what is new, to remain hopeful in our grief, and to be joyful in our living as we seek to follow Christ more closely each day. Amen.