I knew I needed a renewed mind, to see things God’s way. But I didn’t want to. I was exhausted and lonely. I felt like I was being set apart — not for some grand purpose, but left behind; unchosen, like the kid no one wants to pick for their team.
True, I did have a lot going on in my life.
- We’d recently moved to a new town.
- My closest friend was 550 miles away.
- I had a preschooler, a toddler, and a new puppy underfoot.
- I was pregnant and emotionally struggling to make it through each day.
- My husband was gone nine days out of every ten, and beginning his journey into several serious medical problems.
- We were stepping into bankruptcy, desperately needing to unload a house in another state that wouldn’t sell.
So much to process. So much to despair about. So much to fight through to get to that renewed mind I knew God wanted for me. Yet this was the time when God became more real to me than ever before.
Apollo 8’s journey to the moon
The astronauts of Apollo 8 were given a simple mission: orbit the moon, take lots of pictures, and check out potential landing sites for future missions. At the time, each of the three men who would be on board thought their chances of success were roughly 50/50.
Jim Lovell was the Command Module Pilot and navigator. Mission Control took care of all the calculations for him throughout the flight, but he was trained to do this in case they lost communication with Earth. He learned to navigate by the stars, using a sextant and the horizon of either the Earth or Moon.
You’d think hitting the ultimate goal for these guys would be easy. After all, the moon is a pretty big target. But it wasn’t as easy as aiming true and shooting straight.
You see, the side of the spacecraft facing the sun could heat to 392 °F while the side away from the sun could fall to −148 °F. In order to protect the heat shield and other systems from these intense temperatures, the crew would rotate the craft about once an hour.
But the craft isn’t perfectly round, so the rotation would shift it slightly off course. Every thirty minutes, the crew had to make minor adjustments to correctly align themselves.
It took Apollo 8 three days to reach the moon. They’d started rolling the spacecraft about seven hours into the mission, and they entered lunar orbit about fifty-five hours and forty minutes after launch. That would mean they made almost 100 minor course corrections on their journey to their goal.
One hundred course corrections over three days.
The Bible’s method of course corrections
Many Christians are familiar with Romans 12:2.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The Greek word used here for transformed is revealing. The verb tense indicates that this isn’t just a one-time adjustment. Instead, it could be more literally translated, “keep on being transformed.”
Furthermore, it’s not just communicating a mere change, but a total transformation. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says this word infers “change into another form.” It is used in two other places in the New Testament, when Jesus is transfigured (Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2) and when Paul says we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The Pillar New Testament Commentary says, “Paul is looking for a transformation at the deepest level that is infinitely more significant than the conformity to the world’s pattern that is distinctive of so many lives.”
Deep, permanent change. And the secret to this type of change Paul says is deceptively simple: a renewed mind.
The next great question we should ask is this. How do we renew our mind?
The steps toward a renewed mind
Remember hearing this adage?
Garbage in, garbage out.
When it comes to our minds, it’s great truth. The Bible offers advice on what we should fill our minds with. Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.“
Obviously we can’t completely control the thoughts that pop into our head, but we can control how long they hang around. And we could clean up our environment considerably by making wise choices in what we read, watch on TV, and spend time doing on the Internet.
But we need to go even farther. Think of it this way.
- When we read our Bible, pray, meet with other Christians in corporate worship or prayer, or enjoy small group Bible study and fellowship, we allow God access to our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
- When we yield our thoughts, feelings, and actions to God, He steps in to change those same thoughts, feelings and actions to better align with Him.
- As our thoughts, feelings, and actions align with God, our mind is renewed, changed on the deepest level.
So really, a renewed mind is as much about choosing to participate at church and attend small groups as it is about avoiding ungodly books, shows, and websites.
The outward signs of a renewed mind
We should also guard our minds against unrealistic expectations. Often it’s tough to see the changes that God is enacting from one day to the next, especially if He’s working hard on a particular area. I often get impatient, wanting Him to just bob His head to change me like some magical genie.
But don’t forget the example of Apollo 8. It only needed small corrections every thirty minutes to stay on course. And by remaining on course, the astronauts reached their goal and completed their mission.
I know it’s slow tedious work this way, but it’s God’s plan so it must be best. Just keep in mind you are not alone in the process. Remember Paul’s encouagement from 2 Corinthians 4:16.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
If you want to read more of my story and how I came out of some of the darkest days of my life, grab a copy of The Warrior’s Bride: Biblical Strategies to Help the Military Spouse Thrive
(P.S. It’ snot just for military wives!)
“Apollo 8.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 June 2016.
Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 487). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 435). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.