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improving

I had a meeting yesterday with my friend, George.   I wrote a few weeks ago about George and how he is helping me navigate a transition in my life.  That transition continues and is making progress.


The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome concerning their faith, lifestyle and transition from one way of life to another.  This transition was a key element in all of Paul’s writing.  To the Jesus-followers at Corinth he wrote, “…old things have passed away and all things have become new.”  To the followers at Ephesus he wrote, “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” and “put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”  To the believers at Colossae he wrote, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

It seems movement and improvement, in any sense, was the intended destination of a life lived in relationship with God.  In the Romans letter mentioned above there is the most obvious (as if they all are not) passage to this end.  It is found in chapter twelve.  This section of the letter needs to be taken in context.  The letter was written, according to historians, and then an amendment was attached.  That amendment was later inserted into the body of the letter (chapters nine – eleven.) So, what we have today was originally written as what is chapter eight flowing into what is chapter twelve.  In chapter eight, probably the most complete single chapter in the New Testament, Paul concludes by declaring that nothing could separate us from God’s love as we find it in the person, work and commitment of Jesus. Then, his follow-up statement to that dynamic truth is this…

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 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.

The transition is communicated here as transformation, a metamorphosis, as happens to a caterpillar as it cocoons itself and later emerges as a butterfly.  A term for this place of transition is the word Chrysalis, which means a protected place of development.  The cocoon is God’s mercy and grace working in cooperative choreography in our souls to bring about the transition from what we were/are to what we are becoming/will be.

Eugene Peterson has so wonderfully captured this thought in terms congruent with our life and surroundings as he paraphrases this message of Paul as follows…

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

What begins this process, or better, what initiates our involvement in this process? Usually it is adversity.  That is where my friend, George comes back into this picture.  Yesterday as we met, he directed my attention to something he had written (initiated by our current drought/water crisis) that was so simple it was powerful.  I want to give it to you with proper credit for your meditation today in light of God’s message to our souls and his invitation to transformation.

George’s quote was, “Adversity is an opportunity to improve ourselves.”

I have for too long stayed on the front side of my own Chrysalis.  I have now entered that in a new realm of life for one reason.  I want to emerge as a human that is a credit to God, His ways and His legacy.  I invite you to discover your own way but first embrace, don’t run from, your adversity.

Don’t think this will be the last time you, or I, go into this place and process but without it we will never go forward to the next transformation.  So, what’s your problem? Improve!

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