Have I stirred your curiosity with the image and title? I hope so, because the principle I am sharing in this post is a very crucial part of my faith journey foundation, and I hope it will become a tool for your journey as well. It represents my belief re: God’s work in my life, (*See note at end of post.), illustrated in one image. I am excited about the potential for this to be an aha for you, as it was for me many years ago – and continues to serve as a vital (re)orientation point for me.
When I was starting up my Life Coach practice, some eighteen years ago, I repeatedly found myself trying to distill the process of God making us new – to rightly reflect Him - down to one image of the lifelong, macro process for my Christian clients (and myself). And then the answer came...the visual that made it clear and straightforward: an arrow that starts with the ‘old self’ on the left end, and then moves towards the right end where ‘new self’ resides.
Take a look...
Let’s look at the different points on the arrow:
The first spot identified on the left end is not a passive point. I have to connect with what God wants to do – He wants me to choose His transformation process. He is waiting to hear my ‘yes.’ If He doesn’t, He is faithful to continue pursuing me! (Genesis 3:8-9; Lk 15:11-30)
Right after the ‘yes,’ I must surrender to His process, which means I am going to cooperate with whatever He brings to light, whatever He wants to change or remold. This is also the point where the specifics of what He is after – what He wants to transform in me – becomes known to me, to the point that I can put words to it- a misconception about Him, me, others, the world. In other words, something from my old way of doing, seeing or being (my false self) that He wants to make new (my true self). (2Corinthians 5:17; Isaiah 43:19)
Next, I will most assuredly feel like this false way of mine is everywhere I turn! Now that my eyes have been opened to it, I can’t not see its pervasiveness! Ugh...I guess I need this apparent inundation to really commit to the process of moving to a new, better way. (Romans 7:18-19)
Out on a limb is just what it feels like at this point on the arrow: I am in liminal space – between the old and new. I am disgusted at how much I see the false pattern at work, but don’t feel like I can quite pull the new way into focus. (See Romans 7 again!)
But, as I stick to my commitment to His process, I realize I am at the point of no return – the old way is no longer acceptable to me; it no longer serves me (even if it had served or saved or protected me previously, maybe in my formative years.) (Philippians 3:13-14)
Then, blessed is the day when for the first time, I actually notice and identify a NEW response coming out of me! Something truer, more generous – towards myself and others – comes out, instead of something inauthentic, destructive/self-destructive, defensive, selfish or uncharitable. I may even be able to start identifying my true self being expressed and feel the fullness of joy when I am being used by God in the lives of others! (2Corinthians 9:6-8; 1Peter 4:10-11)
But this next point is probably my favorite spot on the arrow: It starts as one single person makes a comment about what seems different about you, your response to something. And then it grows to a few people noticing a change...mmm. That’s the affirmation of His transformative work in me! And it is not short-lived, nor is it self-improvement. It is true change by His Spirit at work in me, just as He promises. (Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 2:8-9)
Eventually, after life brings more opportunities to work on upping my batting average, the new pattern will feel more natural. But I also have found that if the stress is turned up enough, or if the situation is a perfect storm of triggers for me, I can still fall make into the old pattern, the false self. That will always keep me humble. (2Corinthians 12:1-10)
...And then, there’s always the next old pattern to lead me back to the left end of the arrow, where again, God awaits my ‘yes’ to cooperate with His process of making me into the one He sees when He looks at me: who He created me to be, my true self.
You may be thinking: Ok, so what can I gain from awareness of this Transformation Process?
• Conscious cooperation with God
• Seeing purpose in pain
I believe, if I have a Christian Worldview, I should be somewhere on the arrow all the time. This is how real change in me happens – not by self-improvement, but by the Potter's remolding of the clay (Jeremiah 18) – the continual process of becoming who He created me to be, reflecting that unique part of His character with which He imbued me before I was even conceived. (Psalm 139)
May I invite you to think about...?
Which of the points on the arrow can you identify with in your life now and/or in a previous season?
Where are you right now re: His transformation process? What misconception or false pattern may He be opening your eyes to?
What do you need to see, release, or invite for transformation in this moment or situation?
[*Note re: opening paragraph: I didn’t say God’s work in all believers’ lives or in your life. That’s an important distinction for me. I am very sensitive to and intentional about not making my experience into doctrine. How I have experienced God and His work in my life is personal- a personal experience, not a preachable doctrine. I believe the promises of His Word are true and unalterable; but how He demonstrates or makes good on His promises is as individually unique as He has created each of us.]
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