Yesterday, after nearly a year of searching, my wife and I finally reached an agreement on a contract to buy a house. We sold our previous house a year ago and have been looking for a house at a great price. In our neck of the woods, that means a fixer-upper. The house we’re buying fits that description. It is the ugliest house in the little neighborhood in which it resides. It needs updating on the inside and completely new landscaping on the outside. And it needs lots of painting; basically every square inch (meter) of wall space has to be painted. It will be so much work; yet I lay in bed tonight and could not go to sleep. My mind was racing, not from stress, but from excitement of getting started on the transformation.
So here I am at 1:30 AM writing because I am wide awake. Transformation has always excited me. Every home I have ever owned has gotten a makeover of some sort. Sometimes it was just paint, but often it was major with redoing bathrooms or kitchens, or adding decks or porches. My wife will tell you that going through home transformations with me can be unpleasant at times as I can get frustrated with the difficulty of the job or the amount of time it takes me to complete it, or because I’m just completely exhausted at the end of the day. But transformation is usually never a cakewalk. Ups and downs are part of the process.
The same is true with personal transformations. I love those, too, particularly when they are spiritual in nature. There is nothing more exciting for me than to watch students come into our ministry at a certain point spiritually and during the next four to five years become men and women hardly recognizable compared to who they were when they arrived. I have seen students enter college acting as if they had their spiritual lives in order and later humble themselves, admit they had never truly followed Jesus, and be transformed into true disciples of Him. I have seen students embittered by the hand life had dealt them, come to embrace the Lord who can work all things together for the good, and be set free from depths of bitterness. I have seen students who came to campus fully intent on experiencing every pleasure college life had to offer to later discover a different way of living whose reward is joy and a life fulfilled.
None of these kind of transformations come easily and not often quickly. Getting there can be difficult and not without some, even a lot of, pain and discomfort. Mostly, they are made up of many small steps of change, that singularly may not seem significant, but added together produce great and positive changes. Transformation is a process, not an event.
For the follower of Jesus, it also does not have an end point in this life. Paul says we “are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory.” It does not begin and end in college, after a week of church camp, after saying a prayer and being baptized, after graduating from seminary, or after being in church for 25 years. If we are not continually being transformed, our resemblance to the Lord growing more and more striking, then something is amiss.
The current owner of our future home seems to have had no interest in transformation. He moved into the house 15 years ago and did nothing to it, particularly to correct flaws that were there from the beginning. The house did not maintain its fresh look, but deteriorated over time. Houses cannot maintain or transform themselves; they need owners to do that. It is the same with us. Maintenance and transformation of our spiritual lives has to be done by the Lord, but in our case, we have to let Him.
Today, examine your life. What transformation has taken place during the last month, six months, a year, or the last five years? If there is none, then go to the Lord and ask Him to show you what is the reason for that. The truth is the process of transformation, becoming more and more like Jesus, should be an ever-present part of your life until the day you die.
© Jim Musser 2014