Change Brings Transformation

Eleza Miller

Heartland District Administrator

My daughter’s fifth birthday is this week.  When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday she replied with glee, “a drive by!”

Now as I picture “a drive by”, I get a totally different scene in my mind’s eye than to which she is referring.  I envision speeding cars, with mobsters at the wheel, firing guns at unsuspecting targets.  My daughter pictures a celebration! She wants a drive by birthday party, complete with decorated cars driving slowly by with beeping horns, people holding up signs with well wishes, and gifts being showered out the car window at the guest of honor!  Oh, how time changes our world view (thank you, Quarantine 2020).  

The one desire we collectively have had since the Coronavirus Pandemic is “when will we go back to normal?” See the thing about change is, it happens all the time.  Heraclitus (544 BC), the Greek Philosopher, is credited with saying, “The only thing that is constant is change.”  What once was normal is no longer.  In fact, a definition of normal is “Normality is a behavior that can be normal for an individual when it is consistent with the most common behavior for that person. Normal is also used to describe individual behavior that conforms to the most common behavior in society. However, normal behavior is often only recognized in contrast to abnormality.”  (Wikipedia)

Therefore, normal is all relative.  

As I consider my own tension between resistance to change and the desire to remain normal, I realize, as I am sure you do, it really is about control.  Who and what is controlling my life?  I want control.  I do not want to give up control of my normal to someone I think is abnormal!

So, I turn to the only place to make sense of where I find myself today, in this perpetual state of change where normalcy is elusive—the scriptures.  I searched the word “change” in the New Living Translation at  Change is recorded 53 times.  Most of the references to change are the people of Israel begging God to “change” his mind and God working with the people of Israel to “change” their hearts so they will in turn change their ways.  Yet, there is one verse which stands out from the rest, Malachi 3:6 says, “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.”

The God of Israel does not change and only in His great mercy does He allow us to resist change with all our might until we finally acquiesce to His sovereign transformation of our lives.

In fact, in the New Living Translation the word “transform” is only used twice:

Hosea 2:15 says, “I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.”; and,

Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

When I acquiesce control to the sovereignty of God, I get gifts more precious than gold:

  1. I get hope.  The Valley of Trouble was translated from The Valley of Achor.  It was where the Israelites first camped in the Promised Land and Achan stole some things that were dedicated to the Lord.  Where Achan was stoned and burned, the people of Israel piled stones so the Lord would no longer be angry.  It is called the Valley of Trouble for the trouble Achan and his actions brought on the people of Israel. Yet the Lord promises, that if I trust Him, He will exchange my trouble for HOPE.
  2. I get God’s will for my life.  Paul teaches the Romans to not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  God allows for change in our lives for this one purpose, to bring us back to him so he can give us His will for us, which is GOOD, PLEASING, AND PERFECT.  “Back to normal” cannot be better than the future to which the Lord has waiting.
Life in the midst of change, especially change we do not choose, is messy and painful and disorienting. Sometimes my heart breaks for what once was.  But change which brings transformation in and through the will of God and the hope of Jesus, is worth leaving my “normal” and persevering through the abnormal!  I will close with a praise from Psalm 42:11 (TPT):

“So I say to my soul,
“Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be disturbed.
For I know my God will break through for me.”
Then I’ll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again.
Yes, living before his face is my saving grace!”

(If you want to listen to a great podcast, consider Disorientation and the Plan of God, by Peter Scazzero, August 17, 2020, The Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast.)
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