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Patterns

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind

Romans 12:2

One of my favorite times at Camp Wohelo was when a group of us campers got to spend a night on the island directly across from the camp.  Of course the camp counselors were on the island also, but they stayed at a different campsite.  The purpose was for the campers to learn survival skills in a controlled environment.

We arrived at the island in our canoes in the early afternoon.  Our first job was to find an appropriate campsite, set up our tents, and build a fire.  When the sun started going down on the horizon it was time to start a fire (sans matches) to cook our dinners.

The counselors had given us one warning.  “Remember do not stare into the flames of the fire once it is dark.”  Well, that seemed an easy enough rule to follow.  None of us had any problems being obedient while we cooked our dinners and cleaned up.  When it came time to make S’mores it became more difficult to avoid staring at the fire’s flames.  Poking a stick into the fire with a marshmallow skewered on its tip requires visual observation.  You kind of have to stare at the fire to make sure you don’t burn the marshmallow to a crisp.

Most of us ended up gazing into the flames longer than necessary – the flames beckoned for our complete attention.  The red, orange, and yellow tongues of fiery heat were mesmerizing.  The longer we stared at the fire the harder it was to dragged our eyes away from the dancing flames.

It became blazingly clear why the Counselors had given us the fire warning.  When we looked away from the fire into the dark the colors and patterns of the fire’s flames appeared to have imprinted themselves into our eyes.  It was extremely difficult to navigate our way in the dark.  The fiery patterns obscured the path in front of us making it difficult to know where to plant our next step.  Many of the campers tripped over roots, strayed off the path, or became disorientated.

I think the same thing can happen to us when we stare at the patterns of the world too long.  The world’s patterns become imprinted in our sight obscuring the path that God wants us to follow.  When we can’t clearly see God’s path it can become easy to get lost in the darkness of our circumstances.

The more we stare at the world’s patterns the more we can make excuses for behaviors that aren’t beneficial for us or pleasing to God.  The world’s imprinted patterns begin to influence how we act and how we respond to situations.  All you have to do is flip on your television to see this in action!

I don’t know about you, but I think it might be good to apply the Counselor’s fire warning to my life.  I need to make a concerted effort to not conform to the pattern of the world.  I don’t want God’s path for my life to be obscured by the imprinted patterns of the world around me.  I’ve done enough tripping, straying off His path, and being disorientated to last a life time.

I think I’ll choose to be transformed by the renewing of my mind!

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