Posted by: Brad Stanford | September 30, 2009

Transformation

It is definitely rare for me to notice my own progress. Most of the time, things seem “sudden” to me. Suddenly, I have a gut. Suddenly, I have a teenager. Suddenly, it’s my anniversary (two days ago, 18 years). But none of these things are sudden. I just don’t pay any attention until they call for my attention.

But as I prepared to write this post, I realized that God was allowing me to take note of the transformation that me and my family are going through. To me, this is both a gift and a message.

While mentioning Star Trek at this point might seem a bit unrelated, there is a wonderful scene in the movie Star Trek: Insurrection that I think of often. Captain Picard is sitting with Anji, a lady from a people called the Ba’ku. She picks up a dandelion, and blows the little…fuzzy things…off of it. But incredibly, the little…fuzzy things…enter a state of slow motion, while Picard and Anji observe at normal speed. “How are you doing this?” Picard asks with awe. She doesn’t answer him, but encourages him to enjoy the moment. The normal-speed audience is left to wonder what it would be like to have the power to slow moments down, and make them last longer. Indeed, we should wonder about that.

This is much like my opinion of photographs. Don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here, but I love and hate photographs for the same reason: photos freeze moments in time that I rarely notice. I love it because I get to see moments I would’ve never seen otherwise. I also hate it, because photos not only show me how much I’m missing, but they give me the idea that if I just try hard enough, I can notice those moments all the time, which really isn’t true at all.

But as I said, God is letting me see beautiful moments related to our transformation. For instance, we just got a dog. All my life, I’ve been anti-dog. I had bad experiences with dogs as a kid, and I wanted nothing to do with them. But for the sake of my kids (one in particular), I decided that we would get a dog, now that we had space for him to run around. So now, we live in the country, and we have a dog. I’m starting to become a country stereotype.

A friend of ours just finished working on the water heater in the fron of the house. This is the first week we’ve been able to put the kids in the bathtub (they’ve been using my tiny shower in the back of the house), and the first week we haven’t had to haul water from the back of the house to the front to wash dishes. However, I have one more item to get, and that’s a cap for the line that used to go to the dishwasher, which we removed. Without the cp, the hot water doesn’t go to the faucet, it simply pours out the old dishwasher line. But, the line is copper, and its long enough to reach the top of the sink from underneath the sink. So now, to wash dishes, you open the cabinet under the sink, pull the copper line up, then reach way under and turn on the hot water valve. It works. It’s also admittedly redneck of me to do it that way. But we smile at a moment of transformation from city to country.

Back when it was raining so much, I didn’t even notice that the RV port – where the van was parked – didn’t have a rock-path foundation like the driveway. The van nearly got stock. I was slinging mud everywhere as I barely got the van unstuck. Next time, I’ll make sure both vehicles are on solid ground when it’s raining. Transformation.

One of my boys is digging the fire pit for us. He’s traded a lot of game-playing time for hard work time without me having to say much at all. Transformation.

Our satellite internet makes us bandwidth conscious. When someone links to a YouTube video, I can’t just go watch every one of them willy-nilly. I usually don’t get to watch them at all, or if I do, I’ll use the phone. No longer can we watch Netflix movies online. And also, our time is being spent on much better things. Transformation.

I’m thankful that He’s letting me notice. It’s not like I’m going to wake up with eight dogs and four junk cars on blocks in the front yard and wonder how I suddenly became so wealthy. I’m noticing the little things for the first time in my life.

I could end with some sort of feel good moral to this story like, “You don’t have to wait to start noticing little moments like I do!” but that would be dishonest. As I said at the beginning, I see this as a gift of God. It is exceedingly difficult to wake up and be someone different than you were yesterday by willpower. This is where transformation rules. A little at a time, a change here, a change there. As God draws your focus more and more into the mission He’s given you, you’ll begin to notice the things formerly known as unnoticeable.

I also said there was a message in the moments. Part of that message is understanding His take on the speed of life: vapor. Just a whisp, and then gone. But He also promised a full life. He promised that the fleeting moments which we call a lifetime would be filled up and running over with life. That’s what I’m beginning to experience. I see how fat life is moving, but God is allowing me to actually live in the moments and enjoy them.

He’s also wooing me with descriptions of heaven. When I’m in one of those perfect-lighting, no-worries, endlessly-encouraging moments, it’s a shadow of how incredible the new heaven and new earth will be. These moments are like words He is speaking over me and my family that I can hang onto in the toughest of moments. If death means an eternity of these moments, then it’s not such a scary thing after all. That’s a relief!

Take from all of this what you will. As much as I like to encourage, I cant give you the Seven Magical Steps To Living In The Moment™. All I can tell you is to walk with Him, especially when your walk doesn’t look like anyone else’s. Ask for your mission and pursue it with everything, sparing no expense of money, reputation, or health.

A daily quiet time is not where transformation happens. A perfect prayer life is not where transformation happens. Perfect church attendance (not counting sick days, of course :^) is not where transformation happens. Transformation comes in small doses from the Spirit. Religious activities help prepare us for transformation, but they can’t facilitate it any more than our willpower. Yes, prepare your mind. Yes, meditate. Yes, love others. Yes, pray. But understand God transformed you before you came to want to do those things. You did not will your way to where you are now. You may think or feel like you did, but give God the glory, for He’s doing it through you.

We have a plaque in our house that has a quote from Shakespeare on it: “With mirth and laughter, let old wrinkles come.” Of course, it’s written in script, so it looks like, “With math and laughter, let old wrinkles come,” which on one level makes more sense. Regardless, the point is this: embrace the transformation process, and welcome the result. When you notice a “wrinkle”, thank God that He is letting you see your transformation. Few are given the pleasure, and most people see it as pain.

Say it with me: “I am not… ‘most people’.”

Suddenly, I’m done typing.

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Responses

  1. The paragraph “A daily quiet time …” is golden! Quotable! Printable! Like it’s meant for some devotional booklet type thing. Very nice.

    Mary
    not “most people”


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