by Emily Conrad
My mind links the word “transform” with hope, action, and quick, drastic changes.
As a society, we’re fascinated with transformation. Cartoons, action movies, and reality shows feature transformations all the time. A fleet of trucks transform into fierce protectors of Earth. A reporter ducks into a phone booth to transform into a superhero. People and homes go from ho-hum to amazing in thirty- or sixty-minute episodes.
But that’s television. We all know real life works differently.
When I think of real-world transformation, I think of trees changing for fall and of butterflies emerging from cocoons.
These changes, too, seem sudden, but I confess that most often, this is because I wasn’t paying attention. The changes happen painlessly (for me, anyway…), right under my nose, and voila! Autumn! Butterflies!
So, when Romans 12:2 tells me to “be transformed,” I want to see results quickly and painlessly. I want to go from normal to extraordinarily in-tune with God in the space of one fifteen-minute devotional.
Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2, NET
I don’t know when I first heard that verse. Since I grew up attending church, it would’ve been sometime in my childhood. I’ll take a wild guess that it was twenty-five years ago.
A quarter of a century, and I’m still waiting on the big reveal for that transformation, one that will allow me to perfectly live out the second part of that verse, where I am able to discern God’s will, always recognizing what is good and moving toward it with joy. I’m waiting for the day when I’ll have emerged completely from the cocoon of fear and doubt this present world weaves around me.
Worldly mindsets sneak in. I get distracted from what really matters. When I’m convicted, I can repent again and invite the Father to change me, but as long as I’m on this Earth, I’ll remain in a cocoon in the sense that I still won’t be perfect. To be 100% loyal to my Maker, my heart will still need more transformation.
Though the renewing of my mind–and heart–is an ongoing process, thanks to God, I am not lost in transformation.
Television has it wrong. Transformation is a slow process, and the fact that it happens around us quietly does not equate to painlessness.
In another way, however, we love those transformation shows because they’re right: the process is worth the result.
If it weren’t, we wouldn’t spend forty-five minutes watching a remodel for the pay off of five minutes at the end of the show where we see the completed house.
When we see transformation is underway, excitement builds. When we know that the people in charge of the transformation have overseen wonderful projects in the past, we anticipate the end result even more—despite the messy worksite, the inevitable setbacks, and the painstaking progress.
If we can trust a TV show contractor, how much more can we trust the God who would die on a cross for us? He is the one in charge of our transformation.
For the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God. (Philippians 2:13, NET)
Not that we get to stop taking part in the process. As Paul writes a few verses later, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. (Philippians 3:12b, NET)
So, we’re all in process. Though we may have fear and doubt and twisted motives to turn over again to our Savior, know that as children of God, those aren’t the things that cocoon us.
The name of our God is a strong tower that we can run into, He hides us under His wings, and He hems us in.
(See Proverbs 18:10, Psalm 91:4, and 139:5.)
The only thing that has a hold on us so completely as a chrysalis does a butterfly is His love.
As followers of Christ, we are mid-transformation. It’s a lifetime process of trusting and obeying and letting God work in our hearts. Blink and you won’t miss it.
But God is faithful. He is the Master Builder, and He will complete the work He’s begun in each of us.
Regardless of the setbacks or the slow progress you’ve encountered, press on. Transformation is underway, and it’ll be worth every moment when we get to the big reveal.
For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6, NET
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