Earlier this past January there was a sermon at our church on the "tools of transformation." As the teaching started, I was really encouraged because Romans 12:1-2 is one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. It wasn’t his text, but I knew it applied. It has become part of my daily prayer and spiritual confession. As I extol the name of Jehovah M’Keddash – Jesus My Sanctifier I begin to call out His qualities in that role that I adore and need in my life. It goes something like this:
"I thank you Lord Jesus that you are my Sanctifier, the One who sets me apart for your good and perfect will. You are the Author and Perfector of my Faith the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. You Jesus are my Conception and my Reception, my perception that guards against deception. You are the Potter and I am your clay, mold me and make me and conform me into your image and likeness I pray. I present my body to you this day as a living sacrifice that I might be made holy, acceptable, and pleasing unto you for this is indeed my reasonable and spiritual act of worship. I purpose in my heart to no longer be conformed unto the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind by you."
Confessing those names and His nature brings me to a place of yielding. Not so much like a triangular traffic control device, but more like the muscles of a frail aging man beneath the force of an East German masseuse named Helga with a mustache and hairy armpits bursting out of mauve spandex, and biceps and quads the size and firmness of bowling balls. If you crawl on a table under those circumstances – you WILL submit and conform into what ever shape is kneaded – pardon pun.
Maybe that’s not the perfect picture of our Potter doing his thing on us whilst we squat on His Holy Sit-and-Spin, but it may provide an accurate appraisal of the sheer terror of the process once it get’s rolling. One of the comments from the teaching was that the Father is "more concerned about our conformity than comfort." So it is, we won’t know peace without first knowing pressure.
Truly the offering up of my body as a living sacrifice is my spiritual act of worship. Placing myself in His hands to conform me into His image is a difficult thing for me. In that prayer I ask Him to remove the excess clay and wash me with the water of His Word to make me pliable so He can fill in the gaps and cracks.
I get joy from knowing His fingerprints are on me. I’m renewed by His touch and massaging. My mind is renewed by His careful caress, perfect pressure, and wise counsel. I am dizzied by His love. I can, at least for a moment, sense, test, and approve His good, pleasing, and perfect will for me. In that moment of clarity while resting in the Secret Place, the value and significance of submission seems savory and sweet.
The aforementioned teaching listed the following as some of those "tools" of transformation: rejection, loneliness, injustice, unrighteous authority, betrayal, unfulfilled expectations, and change. When he mentioned "change" something in me said, "Uh oh," like when you get to the top of a rollercoaster and realize it’s a LOT higher than you had originally thought. Encouragement quickly transformed to anxiety.
Well, like that rollercoaster, the first 2 months of this year have been all about the angst of change. As the train heads into it’s screaming decent these are the winds of change that I’ve personally experienced thus far: task assignment change at work; I interviewed for another position within the company; my wife is in a career transition; I’m starting back to school to finish my degree; Our laptop computer died; I started a blog; I’ve been to 3 funerals in just over 6 weeks and still walking through personal loss with close friends; we’re adding up to 3 more percussionists to our worship team (on which I serve as a percussionist); and there are layoffs looming on the horizon at my workplace. That just accounts for a few (but not all), of the external changes. That's a lot of stuff. I so look forward to the rush and moderation of the ascent.
The "change" concept is even getting major play in this year’s presidential election. But unlike campaign slogans, when the Father comes in to clean His house, it’s more than rhetoric, He’s about the business of our transformation. I think it’s time for me to get serious about having my mind renewed. I’m tempted to continually crawl off the table and sprint for the comfort of a recliner and a remote, but apparently Brother Jesus has a different agenda - the TV in my bedroom just went out.
What the?! Son of a Jiminy Crimeny Christmas! Some of my best material comes from there! Hmmm. I wonder what that’s about. As I stand up on my tippy-toes and peak over the shoulder of the Savior, I see the top of a list titled Distractions:
I can’t quite make out #3 there.
No doubt it’s something equally significant that will cause me to rant like a lunatic, breakout in hives, and put my humanity on display – again.
When I originally signed up for this trip, I thought it was for the potluck dinners and the first, third, and fourth stanzas. Who knew He would take my prayer seriously and answer it so cleverly by putting me in a snow globe and proceed to shake, shake, shake it like a Polaroid?
As I plink against the sides and tumble through His "sphere of influence" I can vaguely make out what looks to be the palms of His hands and a distant mischievous bearded grin (yes my Jesus has facial hair) as I cry out "Dude! What are you doing?!!!" Still, I know I’m safe there even in the blizzard of instability, because He changes not while He changes me. Helga, on the other hand, is a different story; she will put the hurt on you.