I had a friend ask me today, “Ryan, that tape playing in your head… the one you talked about yesterday, I have that tape playing in my head too. What do you do about it?” He was referring to the message I gave yesterday entitled Here Comes Rusty. Rusty is the bunny at the dog track that the dogs chase with the futile hope that they’ll have something different for dinner. They never catch him; but he always leads them. We all have aRusty in our life. In fact, we all have the same Rusty… our “Rusty” is our thoughts and beliefs. The things we believe and the things we focus our mind and attention on, determine the course of our life (Romans 8:6).
Every one of us has a narrative that plays in our mind; like a CD that skips in the player (remember CDs? remember CD players?). The stories we tell ourselves, are often the stories we end up living out. The direction of our mind determines the course of our steps. So, in St. Peter’s first letter to the churches in modern day Turkey, he says,
 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 ESV)
It’s interesting, the first command given in the letter is, “set your hope fully on grace!” The truth of the matter is that everyone has their hope set on something or someone. Some of us set our hope on our bank account, some on our performance, some on people’s perception of us, and some on our love life. Followers of Jesus are called to have their mind and their hope set on the GRACE that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The reality that you stand in grace (Romans 5:2), that grace is coming (1 Peter 1:13), and that grace will be inexhaustible throughout all eternity (Ephesians 2:6-7) is a reality that should occupy the space of our mind. However, setting our hope is only possible as we prepare our minds; because the battle for our hope happens in our minds. If you can change the things you think and the things you believe, you can change your life (Romans 12:2). The other side of that coin is, if you can’t or won’t change the way that you think, you’ll never change the way you live.
We all have a narrative that plays over and over in our mind. A lot of us have a tape that plays and it tells us a whole list of lies and partial truths. Peter doesn’t have to tell the believers to dwell on their past sin and failures… they/we already do that! Don’t we? That’s what my friend was asking me. He was saying, “Ryan, that’s the narrative that plays in my head. What do I do about it?”
I have that tape that plays too… here’s what I do:
- I picture Jesus on the cross saying, “Ryan, I died for that one too.” See, if I don’t believe Jesus died for it, I believe I have to carry it. If I don’t believe Jesus died for it, I (at least in some way) carry the shame and guilt of the things that I’ve been a part of in the past.
- They scriptures say that “we have access by faith into the grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:2) I love that passage. I love picturing myself literally standing under the waterfall of God’s love, grace, and mercy towards me. Some might call this centering prayer, others would say that it’s creating space to meditate on the scriptures. Whatever you call it, know that it’s extremely practical… and life-giving.
- I preach myself the the gospel. I’m convinced that if the HOPE of GRACE and FULLY occupy my hope, it will radically change the way I live.
I think too many followers of Jesus are carrying around and feeling guilty about things that Jesus already died for. If Jesus died for it, you and I need to learn to drop it. But, you can’t do that if you don’t prepare you mind; a lazy mind never lives in grace. You must sober your mind by not letting the frustration and set backs to intoxicate your mind. And then we need to keep an eye on our soul and look out for the signposts (more on this tomorrow) of our life that show us that we’re not walking in grace.
What do you do? I’d love to hear in the comment section.
For those who are looking for some other resources, here are two books that I think might be helpful for you.
- The Gospel Primer – this is a short devotional that you could easily read one section from each morning. I trust that it would be an encouragement to you and your relationship with Jesus.
- The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification – easily one of my favorite books. It was written in 1792, but in it, Marshall digs into the way that believing and walking in the gospel produces true and practical change in the life of the believer. (the link is to the version with updated language)
Tomorrow I’ll address some of my “signposts.”