Thursday, February 23, 2012

Those Who Wait Upon the LORD...

Still thinking about transformation. Last time I wrote, I was struck by the "working" component of transformation. Today, it's the waiting component that's on my mind. My dad is still recovering from his heart surgery, and actually had a major setback; an infection attacked his whole body. During this time we are waiting. We're waiting to see how things are going to go, waiting for his body to heal, waiting to see what God's plan is, waiting to see the butterfly! Not so fast....

During the waiting, I find there's nothing I can do but pray. I'm not implying that prayer is less powerful or meaningful than other action steps might be, just saying that prayer is the only action step for me to take right now. So, I'm thinking about how I'm praying, and what the purpose of my prayer is. I remember a scene from the movie Shadowlands, about C.S. Lewis, where he discusses what prayer is all about with a friend. I don't have the words exactly, but the friend implies that if one prays hard enough, maybe it will move God. C.S. Lewis replies that the idea of prayer is not to move God, but to move us. I think he's onto something there.

I feel a little silly sometimes, listing off to God what my dad's needs are, or anyone else's for that matter. God knows. He knows better than I what everyone else really needs, because He can see so much more than I can. So then I think, "well Lord, I ask that Your will be done in this or that situation." But that seems silly too, because He doesn't need me to ask for His will. Truly, He doesn't need me to ask for anything. Like C.S. Lewis said, it's not for Him, it's for me, it's about molding me. I guess what I want to do, (and what I think maybe the whole purpose of prayer is) is to align MY will with His. So the action step of praying is to realign the posture of my heart, to get myself and my desires lined up with His.

Maybe this is what Paul was saying when he wrote Romans 12:2....
"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." Through the waiting, and being prayerful, He will transform me, and change my will to His. Oh, that I will be cooperative!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Change is Hard

My dad recently had open-heart surgery; he had 6 bypasses and an aortic valve replacement. Pretty major stuff, and there are so many amazing word pictures regarding the heart.... like, what it means to "open" your heart, and allow the "restoration" of your heart. His recovery has been slow and difficult for all of us around him. As he is now finally coming out of the grog of a 10-hour surgery and 18 different drugs dripping into his veins, he will begin the hard work of recovery, which will be slow and difficult for him.

He is quite literally in the middle of a transformational process. Before his surgery, he was a man whose heart was failing. He was getting weaker, struggling to breathe. He was unable to complete simple tasks that previously, he'd done without thinking, like filling the car up with gas or going to get the mail at the end of the driveway. As he recovers, he will get stronger, and each day he'll do more than he'd been able to do the day before.

There's a huge spiritual component as well. Before, he was a man who found his identity in his own physical strength. He grew up on a farm in Iowa, a strapping fella, always proud of his brawn. Of course, this is not the full picture of his identity, but it was a big part of who he was. Now, he has found the place where there is no physical strength, he's at the end of himself. He will have to fully rely on Christ who strengthens him, inside and out. He's being transformed into a man who finds his identity not in what he can do, but in what Christ has done and is doing in him.

Transformation is exciting! It gets me all aflutter. And who doesn't love the picture of the caterpillar being transformed in a butterfly? But I was thinking this morning about what hard work it is. The hard work is the part we forget, or gloss over, but is so important. That caterpillar doesn't go into his cocoon and take a nice long nap until one day, Poof! Transformation is complete and now he's beautiful and flying free. There's all kinds of work going on in that cocoon. And, once he is a butterfly, it's a lot of work to get out of the cocoon. Growing wings is slow and strenuous. It is work he must do alone. If someone comes along and helps him out, it actually harms the butterfly.

As nice as it would be to skip the work of transformation, we can't. The transformation is real and lasting when we do the work. God actually does a lot of the work, and He created the design and plan for just what kind of a butterfly we'll be. But there's business that we have to attend to, as well. Dear LORD, help me pay attention to the work you've given me, and get it done, so I can fly--beautiful and free!