One day, several years ago, I sat down at my computer to do some work, and I suddenly found that I had trouble reading the screen. The words looked blurry, especially the smaller ones. I kept blinking and rubbing my eyes, trying to clear my vision, but the blurriness persisted. No matter how hard I squinted, the words just wouldn’t clear up. I was beginning to get a headache.
Maybe I’m just getting older, I thought. I had heard that with age it gets harder to read things. I had also watched plenty of older men and women struggle to read smaller print. I’m already there, I thought glumly. This was not good news. I wasn’t even forty. I struggled along for a while, hoping that it was just my imagination. Perhaps if I put it out of my mind and focused on my work, the vision problem would go away. It didn’t.
I finally had to admit to myself that something was really wrong. I would have to contact an eye doctor and get my eyes checked out. Maybe I would need a new prescription. Maybe I needed bifocals or reading glasses. Maybe there was something even more serious going on.
But then I had a revelation. What if I reversed my thinking? What if the problem was with the computer screen? I pulled up the display settings for my monitor. When I examined them, I saw that the screen’s resolution had somehow been changed; it was set for a slightly smaller screen than I actually had. Maybe I had accidentally changed it, or perhaps it had done that itself during an automatic update; who knows. But when I adjusted the resolution to the correct settings, the screen popped into focus. Every word became crystal clear.
Sometimes we need to reverse our thinking to bring our life into focus, too. We naturally look to ourselves to make life work. When we face difficulties, we try harder. We attempt to discern the problem and learn from our mistakes. We network with people and tap our resources. And when we are worn out, stressed out, and exhausted, we search for ways we can cope with the pressure, so we can keep pushing for a breakthrough. But what if the breakthrough doesn’t come? Or what if the breakthrough comes and it doesn’t last? What if we’ve tried our hardest, and we still haven’t found lasting peace, happiness, and contentment?
At that point, we basically have three choices:
- Keep trying and hope for the best.
- Embrace despair and stop trying.
- Discover a new way of thinking.
I think most people opt for #1. They have stopped trying to answer the big questions of life, including trying to figure out God. They’re just trying to make their life as good as they can. Some people opt for #2. They have concluded that life isn’t good, and they have stopped trying to make their life better. But a few find #3, and change their mind about God, about themselves, and about how life works. In fact, the Bible has a word for this change of mind: repentance.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” — Jesus (Mark 1:15 CSB)
Repent sounds negative, and repentance certainly feels negative on the front end! We resist repenting because we don’t like to admit we were wrong in the first place. But there is grace and life on the other side of repenting. When we admit our wrong to God, believing in the good news of Jesus Christ, then we are released from our old way of thinking and can embrace new life in the kingdom of God.