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Groundhog Day

Loughborough Church - Groundhog DayEver thought that you just keep going round in circles? That you have past this place before? That it’s ground hog day? That you are locked into some sort of cycle that you cannot break. You have been setting the same goals now for the last 5 years and here you are at the start of yet another with roughly the same goals!

Seems like we’re not the only one’s. Monarch butterflies follow a very specific generational migration. Starting in Mexico, the first generation will fly to the southern United States where they will remain for life. Their offspring will fly to the central states, stopping somewhere around the Ohio River, where they will reproduce. At this point the third generation will migrate to Canada to lay eggs. The fourth generation that is born in Canada will then take a miraculous flight all the way back to the same mountains in Mexico where their great grandparents originated from.

For countless years this incredible butterfly has been following this same four generational cycle, one of the most incredible yet mysterious journeys in the natural world. In short, they do it because it is in their nature.

Paul said in Romans 12:2: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The word Paul uses here is the word we use for the metamorphosis of a butterfly. The change in the end is something completely different than was there before. This is how total the transformation should be when it comes to our thinking. And remember, our thoughts determine our feelings and our feelings our actions.

Look at the following example:

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini recounts a study that was done at a horse track. Two psychologists who led the study found that people were much more confident in the horse they chose immediately after they placed a bet, when just seconds before they were just randomly selecting a horse. Once they made a public declaration by laying money down on a particular horse, they matched their feelings to their actions. Cialdini calls this social influence, stating, “It is, quite simply, our nearly obsessive desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done.”

It is very hard for people to change their opinion, let alone to change their opinion of another person. We’ve all seen people become trapped by their words. Yet instead of confessing they were wrong, they will defend their words and actions, all in the hopes of appearing right, afraid of appearing weak.

Paul says that in Christ our thoughts become brand new. In Christ we are not trying to defend self, we are surrendering to Him and going through a complete metamorphosis. When our thinking is changed, our beliefs are changed, our actions are changed, and our life is changed.

In the 70s a woman named Laura Shultz, who was 63 at the time, lifted the back end of a car off her grandson’s arm. Peak Performance author Dr. Charles Garfield tried to get an interview with her, but she refused, unwilling to talk about “the event.”

After much convincing, she finally told him she didn’t like to think about what happened. “If I was able to do this when I didn’t think I could, what does that say about the rest of my life? Have I wasted it?”

Charlie was able to coach her into pursuing her dreams. At 63 she went back to school, got a degree in geology, and became a professor at a local college.

That happened when she changed her beliefs—her thoughts were transformed about what was and was not possible. As Lily Tomlin said, “I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.” You can make a difference today. Even if you have to admit you were wrong, make a phone call, give an apology, and be transformed by the renewing of your mind!

I often say to people “live with as few regrets as possible”. I must confess at times that I can watch a film or read a book that inspires me and come away thinking if only I had done that earlier in my lifetime! Don’t hesitate do it, what’s the worst thing that can happen? It doesn’t work. Better to have tried and failed than not try at all. However this story still gives us hope. Fancy doing a degree, starting up a new venture?

In my early 40s Knowing that Counselling was something I felt was one of things God had put in my life I went to University to improve my knowledge and skills. It was never about getting the piece of paper but for me about being better at one part of that which God had called me to be. How does Paul put it? “Lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of you”.

In 1952 Florence Chadwick wanted to swim California’s shoreline. She had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel. Once she began her journey across the ocean water, her fear got the best of her. Scared of sharks, fighting the fog and the chilly water, she told the boat beside her she wanted to quit. She had already been swimming for 15 hours, was exhausted and ready to throw in the towel. Her mother tried to encourage her, telling her she was close, but panicked, Chadwick gave up. She later told a reporter, “All I could see was the fog … I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.” In reality she was very close to the shore when she quit. Fortunately she was successful at her next attempt and has set an example for generations to come. Our minds and our thoughts are incredibly powerful to control our lives.

I was talking with my nephew once who plays professional football, and he said football is 70% in the mind and 30% skill and hard work. He said if you haven’t got the skill you should not be on the pitch in the first place, it’s the mindset that makes the difference. How many times do we see a top club beaten by a team at the bottom? It’s because their mindset is different they thought it was going to be easy. They are the same players with the same skill but a different mind set!

Here’s a well-known secret, most successful people know what it is like to fail! They will tell you failing it is not a problem, it is not having another go that is. We can learn from our failures and move on.

When Thomas Edison was asked about all his failures in making the light bulb he said

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

Thomas A. Edison

Off course he did succeed, what about that for staying with it!

There are countless people who like Edison are working on drugs, inventions, prototypes time after time after time in the hope of finding a cure for a disease, energy for the future, machines to help us. Thankfully they understand that failure is just part of the process of success.

So if you are thinking that this time is going to be ground hog day yet again, think again; your breakthrough is just around the corner.

But know this, even in the fog, when we have a transformed mind, it means we begin to think like Jesus, and when we think like Him we know He is always with us, even if we can’t see very far in front of us. In Him we realise that all things are possible.