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Envisioning a Transformed Life

29 May 2008

I resumed my reading this morning at this point, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes.  I hope it is a blessing to you.

…Achieving this new vision of oneself – of who one would be – must not be presumed to be a mere snap of the fingers.  It will require genuine openness to radical change in oneself, careful and creative instruction, and abundant supplies of divine grace.  For most people all of this only comes to them after they “hit bottom” and discover the total hopelessness of being who they are.  Most people cannot envision who they would be without the fears, angers, lusts, power ploys, and woundedness with which they have lived so long.  They identify with their habit-worn feelings.

When Jesus said to the man by the pool of Bethesda, waiting for the angel to stir the water, “Wilt thou be made whole?” he was not just passing the time of day…but, really, this man’s problem was nothing compared to an individual undergoing the transformation of his feelings (emotions, sensations, desires) from those he learned in the home, school, and playground as he grew up to those that characterize the inner being of Jesus Christ.  He is now not to be one who will spend hours fantasizing sensual indulgence or revenge, or who will try to dominate or injure others in attitude, word, or deed.  He will not repay evil for evil – push for push, blow for blow, taunt for taunt, hatred for hatred, contempt for contempt.  He will not be always on the hunt to satisfy his lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:16).  No wonder he has no real idea of who he will be; and he must content himself with the mere identity:  “apprentice of Jesus.”  That is the starting point from which his new identity will emerge, and it is in fact powerful enough to bear the load.

Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart (Colorado Springs:  NavPress, 2002), 120.

—–

How true it is that I have no idea what it would be like to be that different person, the one who has laid aside all of the encumbrances and entanglements of sin and evil and who has embraced a grace-fueled abandonment to Jesus.  It seems such a distant improbability.  As I read that passage this morning, I wondered:  what does that edition of qb look like?  What effect does he have on his children?  What is the nature and depth of his quiet influence on others?  Does he carry joy and peace along with him, letting it splash onto the floor and waft into the air around him?  Are others’ burdens lightened by being around him?  What happens to his personality?  Does his wife delight to be in his presence, and is she unshackled and free?

qb

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 29 May 2008 8:21 am

    qb,

    While waiting to go to the dentist, I’ll say this. It is not good for any of us to be alone, lonely, and isolated. Augustine said: “Thou has made us for Thyself, and we are restless until we rest in Thee.” Being transformed by the renewal of our minds cannot be done individualistically in 1, 2, 3, self-improvement, bootstrap fashion. The blessing is that Jesus occasionally haunts us with the same look he gave Peter in the courtyard on the night of his betrayal, shaking us to the foundation. Then he resumes our training on the shore preparing us breakfast and tellign us in response to his love to feed and care for his lambs. Near tears and tears are part of that haunting.

    I will email you an essay that I read back in the 1960s which taught me much about the renewal of the mind.

    Sorry about wanting you in France now (it would be nice, of course) but when you get back you can enjoy yourself at that restaurant in Paris.

    Coop

  2. Ben Pickett permalink
    29 May 2008 9:27 am

    Challenging thoughts, my friend.

    Be formed into the image of Christ is always thought of in terms of a journey, or as Nouwen would say, a “pilgrimage”. I like the thought behind “pilgrimage” because it carries a depth and significance bolstered by people of faith who, over the centuries, would sacrifice all to embrace the hope of some spiritual experience that would gird them for life.

    I worry too much. I find myself getting wrapped up in “what ifs” and often forget that the Spirit’s presence in my life is not preconditioned by my spiritual maturity, but by God’s willingness to be there. In other words, Luther had it right when he suggested that it is Christ, not us, that makes us holy. We are then blessed each day we come to realize our own sanctification more fully.

    I appreciate you.

    Ben

  3. 2 June 2008 11:06 am

    Great work and a great book too.

    http://www.matthewsblog.waynesborochurchofchrist.org

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