The Beginning ”“ Understanding the Root of Transformation
We are almost to the end of January as this week marks the beginning of the end of the month. Have you had a transformation into a new you by adhering to your New Year’s resolutions? Many of us vowed to eat better, exercise more, or be more organized among a plethora of other resolutions. If you follow the self-help pop psychology crowd you may find some conflicting numbers but many believe that in 21 -28 days you can change or break a habit creating a transformation in yourself. Unfortunately however, a University College of London psychologist, Philippa Lally, conducted a research project that found that it took 66 days for most habits or changes to occur. That means that if we follow this research finding that March is the monthÂ our transformation reveals itself which is a quarter of the year. Â The really interesting part of this study though really wasn’t the number associated with the change but that the habit itself really depended on the attempted habit being changed. So a transformation can occur after a short time or it can take a long time depending on what exactly the transformation being attempted is. It seems though that maybe we are looking at this transformation issue from the wrong angle. Perhaps we need to find the root of how we developed the issue that we want transformed from. Is it because we have gotten ourselves caught in the issues or “customs” of the world and something deep inside of us is urging us in a new direction as we know this is not the way or purpose our lives should be going? In order for a transformation to take place perhaps we must understand the root of the issue. By examining the root maybe we can holdÂ to our new transformation easier if we understand how we got off track and can avoid that pitfall in the future. We can begin to understandÂ by focusing on this week’s Scripture verse by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2;
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this word, 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. (NLT)
The Middle ”“ Determining the Way to Transformation
Turn on the television, open up a magazine, even drive down the interstate andÂ the world bombards us with images and advice telling us how we need to live and the things we must have to live this way. It is often difficult to ignore these things and move around them and press toward the things we know would be pleasing to God. Sometimes we just follow the world along blindly because it has always been done that way or that is the way everyone does as we excuse our behavior by justifying it to the world’s standards.
Not very long ago, my mother came across a poem in some of my grandmother’s things that really struck a chord with me on this very subject. I feel though before I share the poem that I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you a little about my grandmother. She was well-known in the family and community for her love of poetry and the abilityÂ to reciteÂ poems. The poems she recited most often were by American poets and usually had an ethical or life relating lesson to make the listener really think about what they had heard and relate it back to their own life. I have very fond memories of listening to her recite poems with her eyes bright with a twinkle performing them as if she was the main star on a theatrical stage. She recited memorized poems up untilÂ the time she joined the heavenly fatherÂ at the age of 93 and as I read this one I can hear her voice clearly as if she were speaking directly toÂ me. This poem is by an American poet, Sam Walter Foss (1858 ”“ 1911), and really relates toÂ how humans often justifyÂ to the world their standards, values,Â and traditionsÂ by using the worn out phrase “that is the way it has always been done” even if it createsÂ a burden on us.
The Calf Path
One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then two hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bell-wether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell-wethers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made;
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ”˜twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed — do not laugh —
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked,
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare;
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah! Many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.
It seems as if a lot of us want to just plod along in life following the calf paths that othersÂ do without giving much thought to why we are going the way we are. Maybe it is time to blaze a new trail and allowÂ a true transformation to take place by stop letting the world dictate what and how we live our lives but instead let God dictate our lives for it will be there that we find God’s will and purpose for us. We must follow God’s plan with Christ to be fully rescued from this world filled with evil that we live in. (Galatians 1:4) If it is a transformation we seek weÂ must allow God to change the way we think by first putting our loyalty in Him and not to the world.
Paul tells us in Colossians 3:10;
Put on our new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (NLT)
This new way of thinking is to live for God and not for ourselves or the world. If we are striving in this direction our conduct should really match our faith and vice versa. It is important to remember that this is a continued transformation process not something that happens overnight just like losing weight or learning to eat right is not a “quick fix”. It doesn’t happen immediately and if it is a transformation that we are going to maintain we all know that it is slow and sometimes there are setbacks but it is important to just keep moving forward by continuing to listen to what God is telling us. PaulÂ writes in Ephesians 4:23;
Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. (NLT)
To be transformed and keep the transformation we must first decide that we are going to serve God and then we must put our trust in Him as we continue to change. The closer our relationship is with God the more open we will be to changing the way we think. It is here that we will experience God’s peace in our lives because we will know that God is in control. (Philippians 4:7)
The End ”“ Transformation is a Continued Process of Change
Change not only takes time it takes strength to continue and follow through. If it is our want to live our lives for God then we need help. We will find help through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17;
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (NLT)
It is through Christ that we will find the strength to carry on in our transformation as the ways of the sinful world are a powerful influence. It is so much easier to get caught up in the strong currents of what everyone else is doing instead of focusing on what God wants us to do. If we will however keep moving no matter the stumbles and falls, keep pressing forward to live our lives for God we will be able to fulfill hisÂ will for our lives and that is the ”good, and pleasing, and perfect” part of the plan. As we move forward in our lives reaching for eternity let us all do so with transformed minds not just looking at the world but seeing the world through Gods eyes and in the words of Dr. Tony Evans not just being alive but really living.
I pray everyone has a great last week of the first month of the year staying close to God and trusting Him to control and transform your life. Depend upon Christ for your strength to move forwardÂ as that isÂ where you will find peace as you allow God to fill your empty spacesÂ instead ofÂ the world.
Love in Christ,
E.J.Â with Â J.J.