Bayfront Living – March 2023

In Like a Lion…Out Like a Lamb…

Does March find you feeling a need for renewal? Maybe a roaring mindset that needs a little soothing, lamb-like encouragement? After the winter… Shoot, after a few YEARS of upheaval, are you feeling a little angsty? Well, my friends, there is hope. Take a look at this:

”Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (New International Version)

Could the trees budding around us and the coming of spring be a nudge to renew our minds? In a recent conversation with a dear friend, we shared our dismay regarding the news and social media. We agreed that, while there are edifying aspects of both platforms, we also find them exasperating, confounding, and confusing. Is what I am reading and hearing and seeing true? What is the source? Do my beliefs align with the worldview? Where can I go for truth? In Scripture, even Pontius Pilate asks ‘What is truth?” He lived, as do we, in an extremely pluralistic society, and he also sought to let himself off the hook for ordering the crucifixion of Jesus. Just prior to Pilate’s rhetorical question, Jesus had told Pilate in plain language, “I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth; everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37) The questions I have asked myself and God in response to my own dilemma are,” Where should I invest my mental, spiritual, and emotional energy?” I don’t want to be clueless about what is happening in the world, so how can I offset the constant barrage of troubling news?” The most obvious response is to limit time spent ruminating on and watching the news and scrolling on social media. Yet, there is more. Something deeper. A renewal of mindset and outlook is possible but involves a shift in my focus. This morning in my prayer chair I re-read scriptures that encapsulate what I feel is wise guidance. The first is from the letter to the Romans:

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” {The Message)

The operative words here are “fix your attention on God” Ask your Higher Power for help to keep your focus on what is nourishing. Over time, you will learn to discern what you are called to absorb and what should roll off.

A “How-To” in response to this exhortation is found in Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4, verses 6 through 9:

6-7 Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

I invite you to read through the passages a few times, allowing the content to wash over you. Then ask, “What message is here for me? What am I to do with it? Ask God to nudge you in the right direction: to guide your thoughts down paths that will serve your spirit and not drag you down. I believe that our Creator loves and welcomes our questions. Which of my thought patterns needs to be shifted? What issues am I called to act on? Which should I let go of?

March is the month of transformation and the budding of new life. My prayer for us is a greater awareness of the Love Who wants the very highest and healthiest for us, body, mind, and spirit. May your mind and heart find refreshment this spring!