What do you do when a phone freezes, stops working, or is unresponsive? You toss it to the ground, step on it really hard, and make sure is completely crashed, right?
Well, probably not. Most likely you do what most of us have done: we reset our phones to reactivate its functions, we don’t discard it. Depending on how bad it is, we may remove the battery, or do a hard reset which restores the factory functions, deleting everything in the hard drive. It’s not a good situation, but you get your phone back and start all over again.
Have you thought about your life along those lines? That sometimes we need some kind of reset when life gets so thick and unbearable that we stop functioning in healthy ways and find ourselves thinking, behaving, or making choices that are not good for us or the people we care about? In such times, what we need is a fresh start. I know I do sometimes for a variety of reasons, and maybe you do too.
Why bring this up? Maybe you have a bunch of stuff going on in your life right now that keeps getting in your way and keeps you from fulfilling what you know is God’s plan and calling for your life. You may have regrets, remorse, or guilt, the sadness of unmet goals and past disappointments that distracts you from seeing a future for your life to the point that you give up hope, saying: I am broken, I will never be whole again, there is no future for me, I gave that up long ago. These experiences and memories from the past threaten to overpower us to the point that what happened in the past is ruining our present and our future.
The sad part of it is that we think it’s normal, that we just have to deal with it. In a way, we do have to deal with the not-so-positive happenings in life. But here is the trick: we are not called to do this alone.
God wants to work his good will in everything that happens in our lives, and God is in the business of making things new, in transforming the old into a new creation. Our God is a God of opportunities and new beginnings. Our God is a God of the ultimate Reset.
Do you need a reset today, a new way of living, of moving from what was to what can be? If you feel purposeless, broken, or like a frozen, unresponsive phone, then it is time for a reset, and you are not alone.
Now how do we do this? Well, let’s learn together.
The scripture for today is 2 Corinthians 5:17. It is just one verse. And it says,
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Let’s get some context first.
Like us, the Corinthians were struggling with many problems and difficulties. One of them was living into their new identity as followers of Jesus. As new believers in Christ, they were becoming a part of a new way of living that was in drastic contrast to their old ways. The Corinthian Christians needed to be reminded of this and encouraged constantly about their faith, to not give up and give in to the old ways of living before they knew Christ.
For this reason, in this text and within the context of the letters to the Corinthians, Paul talks of a “new creation” as the transformation that takes place in us that makes us to be “born again,” meaning, saved from the condemnation of sin and death, and the evil powers of this world, to become people of God: children of light with a restored and new life.
However, there is always conflict when you have two elements at odds, in this case the old versus the new. There is a sort of battle between these opposing elements. The moment we embark on our new life, the old yells back at us, reminding us who we were, what we did, or what happened to us, with the only intention of holding us back by discouraging us and putting in doubt our worthiness.
For this reason, a common struggle Christians face today as much as back then is to fully leave behind the old and fully embrace the new. Although your soul has been saved, maybe your mind has not caught up: a part of you is still stuck in the past, in the old, in the very thing about which God has said: “you are the one talking about it, I don’t even remember that anymore!” In other words, what happens in practice is that the devil will always bring up your past to discourage you, but God will always remind you of your future to encourage you to keep moving on.
So when I talk about a reset in this context, I mean the ability to embrace and move into the new things that God has for us by not allowing the hurts of the past to hold us back. Becoming new creatures, as Paul says, is the ultimate reset for anyone, “for everything old has passed away and everything has become new!”
But this is one of the most difficult practices, isn’t it? How do we move away from the old? Is it possible?
I think it is, but we have to change it. What do I mean by “change it”? Like changing the past? Yes, like changing the past.
At first this sounds like a contradiction. How can we change something that already happened? But why does the past matter at all? What is the past to us today? What do we get to keep from something that already happened? Why does the past have so much power over us?
Well, because of the memories; we get to keep those –either the bliss or the trauma.
When we talk about the past, it is really the memory that we are talking about. The story that runs on a loop in the back of our minds of what has happened. This is critical because the past – those memories – only exists in our mind; but they have a direct effect on what happens today and will happen to us in the future. Why?
Because they define us. Although those events may not even matter anymore, they have so much power and control over our minds that they affect our decisions.
Recently I learned about epigenetics, the science that tells us that we are the sum of our experiences, that what happens to us – mentally, physically, emotionally – affects our biological composition, which means that everything that happens to us lays itself like tire tracks tattooing itself across our body-mind and literally making us the product of what has come before.
For example, an experience of trauma from the past seen through a certain lens can physiologically create stress responses like cortisol, stress hormones, and anxiety. All these responses may exist today –even if the event took place many years ago. According to epigenetics, we are the product of what we were and what we continue to allow to affect us today. That is why it is so hard to let the old go. Because it is tattooed all over our lives and we think that that is normal. And the more we replay it in our minds, the more it takes over us, printing itself all over our lives, defining who we think we are.
This idea led me to ask the question, “can we change what has already been, meaning our past experiences? Can we remove those unhealthy marks out of our lives?”
I think we can.
Here is something amazing: our cognitive framing, our interpretation of reality, our use of thoughts, memory and language to frame our past experiences, even how we speak about them, can actually allow us to change our very past experiences. The story we tell, the story we choose to tell about what has happened, can change what has happened insofar as it may change how we respond to those very experiences today.
Of course, we can’t change the facts of the past; but we can change how we feel about the facts and how we allow them to affect us today. So, if the past can affect you negatively today, perhaps you can change the past positively by changing your response to those negative past experiences by reframing them and seeing them through a different lens.
While we can’t ignore the past – it happened – we can reframe it into a story of redemption by looking at it, by talking about it, by thinking about it through the lens of Jesus’ love and grace. We change our past by allowing it to be redeemed.
This is the reset we need! We stop keeping our future a hostage to our past. We free our future by allowing God to redeem our past and reframe our whole lives around a new story with the hope we get through Jesus Christ. We don’t let our past get in the way of our future anymore. We break the cycle of oppression. We don’t choke on our fears and disappointments but rework these experiences through our faith in Christ. And in turn, we output all of our stories from the past into a story of redemption, knowing that we are more than we were because of what has happened to us today, because of our faith in Jesus the Christ.
I believe that there is a lot more for us in our lives that God wants to bless us with, but we don’t see it because we continue to allow an unredeemed past to dictate our future. And just like the Corinthians, we may find ourselves with a new faith but old thinking, old behaving, old brokenness marking us for life.
We can’t ignore the past. It is never going to go away, as long our memories of it exist. So, change it; redeem it; let the gospel of Jesus, the Word of God, bring healing into your past and transform it into a beautiful story of redemption. Don’t let it haunt you anymore. Look straight at those fears, unmet goals, disappointments, and hurts, and say: you are forgiven, you are redeemed.
I know this is not easy at all. The brokenness from the past holds us by making us feel as if what has been must always be. But here is the truth. We were never created to live defeated, guilty, condemned, ashamed lives defined by feeling unworthy. We were created to be the ultimate reflection of God’s self, full of light, life, and goodness. Let us stop building on brokenness and start building on hope, forgiveness, reconciliation, and acceptance. Let us allow our past to be transformed into a story of redemption, where our decisions of today reflect our hopes for the future and not our fears and brokenness from the past. Remember, new faith with old thinking does not work well. So let’s also stop acting on the brokenness of our past, and start living in the power of the new life Christ makes possible for us day after day.
Finally, let us be certain of this: what God is offering to all of us today is a wonderful thought: the best days of our lives haven’t happened yet. We are not here by accident. This is your confirmation. Everything is going to be alright. God is making a way for you right now. All you have to do is to welcome God’s Word into your life, so it can speak new life into your mind and soul, reframing your feelings, thoughts, and everything from your past that has been getting in your way for so long.
I invite you to frame your life, your whole self, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the love God has for you, in the grace that has been bestowed on you. That is our reset!
Be encouraged today: you are going to make it. Your life still lies ahead of you. You are becoming as you keep on living and walking the pathway Jesus sets before you. Go ahead. In the words of Toby Mac: “You’ve got a new story to write and it looks nothing like your past.”