Happy New Mind!

Today is day #20 of the long-awaited trip to visit family and friends in Santiago, Chile. I’ve probably put on my waist at least two inches of the world’s best bread and butter so far. Not bad—one inch per ten days!

But that’s not the “transformation” I want to talk about today.

The transformation that I was quite nervous about before coming here was the fear of having to speak only Spanish for all of my waking hours. Yes, I learned to speak pretty fluent Spanish those two years I lived here when I was in my twenties, but that was a little while ago.

And yes, my husband is Chilean, but we really only speak Spanish in public when we want to say something about you that we don’t want you to understand. Ha ha! 🙂

I feared having the heavy-duty mental workout of having to translate everything I was thinking in English to say it in Spanish.

I feared having forgotten sentences full of simple Spanish words like “gato” (cat), and having to communicate a simple two-syllable word with twenty-four syllables: that furry animal that has a mind of its own, is inferior to a dog, and goes “meow.”

The very “bueno” (good) news is that by day #3, it all came back to me, and that beautiful transformation “magically” happened: I was thinking in Spanish! Spanish words and sentence structures were actually in my mind before English ones were. It’s like you flip a switch, and what was previously so much work and mental strain, now feels natural.

And that got me to thinking some more about thinking.

Transformation comes from immersion.

My English mind was transformed into a Spanish one by being immersed in a Spanish-speaking culture. And that begs the question: What does it take for my worldly, natural mind to be transformed into a spiritual, Christlike one?

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 2:9, 10 However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. (NIV)

I was given a wonderful husband to help me learn to think in Spanish. If I forgot this simple truth, or never took the time to ask him for help in learning the language and culture, I would be a frustrated “English-Only” speaker at this point.

Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to be our friend, guide, and teacher. We can ask Him at any moment for help and direction, and He will give it. If we don’t hear His answer right away, we can confidently keep on seeking, asking, and knocking.

1 Corinthians 2:13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. (NIV)

Good Christian Friends

The first time I came to Chile, I lived in a house with twelve Chilean college students who only knew Spanish. Each one of them got a good dose of my questions, and they were all patient with me as I learned. Some gave better explanations than others, and some had more patience than others, but the opportunity for me to connect with each of them was priceless.

God gave us the church and other members of the Body of Christ to help us grow closer to Him. We were never meant to go it alone. Granted, sometimes it’s hard to find Christian friends who encourage us to know and love Jesus more and more, but we must keep on being a member of Christ’s body and seek to encourage others in the process.

Who are you encouraging this week?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. (NLT)

The Word of God

As much as I have learned Spanish from just “being in it,” had I never consulted books or practiced reading and writing it, my “Spanish life” could be quite a mess.

God gave us His anointed word to teach us the truth, to point us to Jesus, to enable us to know who He is and what He likes, and to know what He wants from us. Apart from His word, we can’t be sure of anything, and the more we immerse ourselves in His word, the more we will think like He does.

I don’t know about you, but this is the area where I need more “immersion time.” Yes, every year I start a new Read-the Bible-in-a-Year plan, and I’ll be honest—I’ve yet to stick with the plan for a whole year.

But I’m not going to let that keep me from going for it this year!

Here’s the one I’m doing.

Who knows? By the end of 2018, maybe instead of thinking in English or Spanish, I’ll be thinking in “Jesus.”

How about you?

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

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