The Subtle Art of Transformation

I was going to write an inspiring post about transformation.

Now that’s a word with some gravitas, isn’t it? Transformation. A word like that should always appear in italics. And I was going to write all about it today. I had it all laid out. I was going to talk about some of the laws of physics and energy. I was going to talk about our bodies and the way that our cells are constantly dying only to regenerate into a new person.

I was going to be witty and wise. I was going to draw some insightful conclusions and give a few pointers about how you, too, may experience transformation in your life if you’ll only…

Because that’s how these Christian blogs work. We take some deep spiritual truth and break it down into “3 simple steps to” or “5 easy ways you can.” And I had mine locked and loaded.

But I couldn’t.
I just couldn’t honestly write that post.
Because the truth is that I have never done anything to transform myself.
So I’m not about to try to convince you to try, either.

To be sure, I have made some changes in my life. There have been poor habits that I have slowly learned to stop doing. On rare occasions I have been convinced to change my attitude. There are harmful thoughts that I have ceased to indulge. I have grown and matured.

But transformation? That is beyond my grasp. It’s above my pay grade. Out of my reach.

Transformation has never been something I’ve achieved, but something I have always realized in retrospect. Like Trevor shared yesterday about listening to those songs, suddenly being awash in the realization that I am no longer that person. I can look back on my life and see it. I have become a little more patient with others (although not nearly enough). I lose my temper less (even if I embarrass myself every now and then). I have seen my mistakes turn around into wisdom. I am a different person than I used to be.

And just like we awake every now and then to the growth of our own children, like when in the world did they get so tall?!? — I can look back to see that I have been transformed. I couldn’t tell you when it happened and I’m absolutely certain that it’s not of my own volition.

Transformation has never been a force of my own will.


But there it is. Suddenly plain as day and yet still mysterious and wonderful and enigmatic.

When Paul talks about it in Romans 12, I get a similar picture:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 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. Romans 12:1-2

Give your bodies . Let them be sacrifices. Let God transform you.

Not a command to transform ourselves, but a plea to give ourselves away so that God may transform us. When we give up control, something amazing can happen.

So today I have no to-do list. No easy steps toward transformation. No sage advice or wisdom.

All I have is a story. A life that shows that God is at work, that transformation is real and available.

And I have an invitation. To give your life away to others. To throw yourself into generosity and hospitality and grace. To follow Jesus in real and tangible ways.

Because I believe in the reality of resurrection. I believe that God is always at work in us, transforming us even if we can’t see or feel it. And I believe that he can produce more patience, more kindness, more forgiveness, more grace within us than we could ever do on our own.

Because I believe God is adept at the subtle art of transformation.

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