Have you ever heard of the “eighteen-inch journey?” Eighteen inches from your head to your heart. That’s all it takes to be transformed by what Jesus did for us. We learn truth in church and we understand the concept. The eighteen-inch journey suggests that we just have to get that concept from our head to our heart.
I’ve been wondering lately about this. I mean, how exactly am I supposed to get that kind of truth into my heart? There are sermons based on this concept. I’ve heard a preacher say it’s the longest journey you’ll ever take. From what I understand, if I could just stuff that knowledge into my heart I would stop sinning and begin to live in freedom and joyfully obey the Lord.
When I first heard of the eighteen-inch journey, it sounded so simple and yet so mysterious. Even if I wasn’t sure how it happened, I wanted to do it. I wanted to live a life called according to His purpose. I wanted to do anything and everything to please Him. So, I followed the journey according to the recipe given.
If you would take what you have learned in church and read in the Bible and apply it to your life…
I did. It doesn’t work.
Quite frankly, it’s exhausting. I find myself coming up short and a little angry, if I’m honest about it. I mean, who can keep up with all of that stuff?
I don’t know about you, but I have struggled with the to-do lists in the Bible. As much as I know that I am saved by grace, I still see them…the things to do standing out in my quiet time. Love your neighbor. Resist what is evil, cling to what is good. Abstain from fleshly lusts. Keep your behavior excellent. Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t covet. Don’t have any other gods before me. Honor your father and mother. Submit to your husband, and don’t even get me started on the Proverbs 31 woman.
Not only that, but when I got exhausted, I looked around and saw all the other women in my church who were diligently making it all happen. They were patient and kind, had obedient children, curled hair, and a freshly baked pie to share with the unfortunate ones who couldn’t get it together, who just needed a little more Jesus, who looked like me.
Enraged, I cried out to God.
Where is the freedom? Where is the joy? Why can’t I get this through my thick heart? Surely, if I was doing it right, doing it well, doing it enough I would be living in wedded bliss with my Bridegroom!
But I wasn’t, and it had me wondering, why isn’t my Christian life working for me?
I thought about getting off the pain train and hailing a cab for the nearest bottle to drown myself in. I considered planting a garden. I contemplated writing my next book. What would make my heart realize what my head knew was true?
That’s when I read Romans 12:1.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
Dear God is there no mercy? What is He telling me to do now? How can I do this if I don’t even know what that means? And worse, I was not a virgin when I got married. How could I ever present my body to Him as a living and holy sacrifice?
Just when all hope was lost and I was drunk on my pain and shame, I stumbled forward to verse 2.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
By the renewing of your mind…renewing of your mind…of your mind…your mind…
The echo, soft in my ears and intoxicating to my soul, sobered me up. Renewing is present tense, transformed is past tense. The renewing is of my mind.
That’s when I heard Kara Thrace from a late episode in the Battlestar Galactica series screaming at the top of her lungs, “YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!”
It hit me in my face, yes in my head, that the journey is not from my head to my heart, but from my heart to my head. My spirit knew this. My mind needed some revelation from the Lord.
When I got saved, I became spiritually alive and reconciled to God. I am now in Christ and He is in me. It didn’t happen in my mind or will or emotions for me. Those things are still in process. I know that because all three of them keep needing to be renewed, but my spirit is transformed and new in Christ.
There it is…the freedom, the joy. There is the truth I have longed for. Engaging in an intimate relationship with Christ renews my mind and allows me insight into what the will of God is for me right now, today, and in the future.
This love affair, this sweet communion with the Father has transformed my “Biblical to-do lists” into opportunities for intimacy with the One who loves me enough to journey with me. And friends, He wants to journey with you too.
Today, I want to encourage you to realize the truth of who you are in Christ, and let that flow out of your heart and into your mind, will and emotions. Then, you will be able to prove what the will of God is for yourself, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Then, you will find your freedom, your joy.