He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, December 26, 2016

Changing The Pattern

           
          I am a quilter, when time allows.  It gives me immense joy to leaf through all my quilt books looking for the quilt pattern I’d like to use next.  I’m often amazed at how different a quilt can look when you change one shape in the block, change colors or when you rearrange the pieces in a block.  With each change, you have the potential to make a whole new quilt!  The possibilities are endless!

            This same principle can be applied to our lives.  When we change a bad habit for a good one, we’ve changed a “shape.”   When we change a sinful lifestyle to a Christian lifestyle, we’ve changed a “color.”  When we fellowship with Christians instead of those who would lead us down a sinful road, we have “rearranged the pieces” in the block.  The sum total of all these changes creates a “new person” in Christ.

            We are told not to conform to the patterns of the world but to be transformed.  This transformation may take time.  With the “renewing of our minds” through reading God’s word, the transformation comes in each of us, just as the quilt changes when we change colors and rearrange pieces of the block.  Our potential for possibilities becomes endless! 

            As the new year approaches, many of us create “New Year’s Resolutions.”  The idea behind the resolutions is to make changes.  Often, however, our goal is so dramatic, we learn almost instantly (sometimes it takes a whole week!) to find out it’s not going to happen.  We immediately reach for the leftover snacks from the holidays, (after all we can’t let it go to waste, right?) or we realize getting up an hour earlier is nearly impossible with the already hectic schedule we have or even in our very specific business worlds huge, dynamic changes (like promising myself I’ll write 2,000 words on any specific project every day) are just impossible for follow through.

            The best way to make changes is a little at a time.  It’s like eating a slice (or bite) of pie rather than eating the whole thing in one sitting!  If we create a plan of “pieces” instead of “entirety,” our goals are much easier to see through!  Instead of dieting through starvation or eliminating all snacks we know we’re going to eat, choose to eat half or even reduce by a quarter.  Instead of getting up an hour early to exercise, arise only ten minutes early.  Rather than promising to write 2,000 words on any given project every day, choose to reach 1,000 words.  Each of these goals are much more manageable.  We can then increase the increments as we adjust to our now “new normal.”

            Another area we, as Believers, often hope to improve is our Spiritual life.  Instead of reading three chapters every day from the Bible, choose to read one.  Rather than choosing to pray for a half hour for all those on the prayer list, choose to break it down into smaller increments during the day.  Instead of planning to deliver food to the needy every week, begin with every other week. 

Do you see a pattern here?  Like the quilt which has shapes that can be re-arranged, colors that can be altered or shapes that can be completely changed, we can change our lifestyles and patterns that hold us to this world. 

I encourage you to ask for God’s guidance on ways you can become “a beautiful quilt” for Christ as you change your personal patterns, one small piece at a time.