Thursday, September 8, 2016

Slow Transformations

The term “transformation” can be confusing.  It means a thorough and dramatic change but it’s not necessarily a sudden one. In fact most major changes are hard won, taking years of work and learning.

I walked across a stage and picked up a diploma, first for high school, then for college, then for grad school. But the ceremonies did not transform me. The changes came in the classrooms, in the library, in my living room chair where I read, and at my computer where I wrote. A business person may be recognized for a major achievement, however the award is not what made this person accomplished—it was in the doing, growing, and learning. Likewise, the athlete doesn’t suddenly become great when the Olympic medal is awarded but only after arduous years of practice and effort. 

You understand what I mean. Yet when it comes to matters of spirituality, many of us look for the quick change. We think major change is supposed to happen in a miraculous moment with a fast prayer or some other religious ceremony, or perhaps merely a return to church attendance. But change usually happens gradually, requiring much time in meditation, self examination, and study.  Learning, spiritual awareness, maturity, healing, virtuous living—these all take time and growth.    

On the day of Pentecost, we read that the wind blew, the flames rested over the disciple’s heads, and the Word was spoken in every language.  It all looked instantaneous, but Luke says that these events had been part of God’s plan from the beginning of time.  Pentecost was not a quick transformation, but rather an event marking the beginning of a new covenant with God.  And yet, even though this was the result of much preparation, it was also the beginning of another long growth process of the church, one in which we are still engaged.

Want big changes in your life? They begin with one step. But it is only a first step. 

Life is full of first steps.