The Mystery of Transformation

And do not follow the customs of the present age, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your minds, so that you may learn by experience what God’s will is–that will which is good and beautiful and perfect. Roman 12: 2

When our son was a boy he had a whole collection of toys known as Transformers. These plastic domathingies represent a host of alien robots in constant search of power and/or peace, depending upon whether they were good or bad. With a quick flick of the wrist, Transformers morph from mere men of plastic to powerful robots in revolt.

The Revolutionary told me about his friend, the addict, dying. Too many drugs. Too much alcohol. Death was the addict’s means of lasting transformation.

The Revolutionary doesn’t come right out and say that he fears the same for his own life. Instead he says he was clean for years, years, mind you, until that moment this past year when he reverted back to his old pattern.

Rationalizing away the dangers inherent for the pleasures present.

Transformation is tedious work.

It’s a heck of a lot easier to just embrace despair.

Hopelessness requires no amount of convincing, exacts no lasting conviction.

Giving up isn’t hard to do.

You can dress a cow in a hat and high heels and send her to church but underneath all that she’s still just a cow.

Transformation of any sort depends upon a supernatural strength, a power far beyond the control of the one being transformed.

It also requires a certain acquiescence to the will of the one doing the transforming. In other words, a willingness to admit that we can’t become what we were designed to be, what we long to be, without some help from someone much more capable than us.

And in this age of carefully designed fake reality, there isn’t much credence given to the mystery of transformation.

Renew your mind, Scriptures tell us, so that you too, can be transformed to that which is good and beautiful and perfect.

Transformation first requires that we think differently.

But how do we do that before we are truly transformed?



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  • Margaret

    reminds me of the Transfiguration 🙂

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Perhaps there are purple cows in heaven, heh?

  • Does he still have any of those? Those early Transformers are worth some money! Lol…sorry, nice post 🙂

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Don’t I wish! I’m not getting rich off this book biz deal. As Gordon’s daddy claimed, I’m a book collector.

  • Steve T

    “… when the sea comes calling … You stop being good neighbors, well acquainted, friendly at a distance neighbors. But you give your house for a coral castle,
    And you learn to breath underwater.” — Breathing Underwater by Carol Bialock

    Solid, that’s how many described him, a real solid guy, salt of the earth, the kind of guy you would want for your next door neighbor. Friend, husband, father, son, these were his roles and he took them all seriously, living into their fullness with all his being. His story was a picture of “family values,” his story was a politician’s delight, proof of a nebulous truth offered without definition or critique, the presentation of a bona-fide ideal. He seemed to rise above the turmoil of the world, like a dam containing the chaos of angry waters, protecting his family and defending those to whom he was close. Solid, like a rock, like a fortress which could not be breached.

    And the actuality was that his WAS the ideal, the American dream personified. Each day the Solid Man moved about the halls of healing where he worked, setting direction and making policy. His was the occupation of a manager. Each day, his leadership, his expertise, his experience was a transforming reality in this place of concern. Each day, the medical center revolved around his axis, offering up care for hundreds, bringing hope and future into the realm of pain and suffering, caressing the battered and loving the dying, more a living creature than a place of blinking lights, plaster walls, and hard tile hallways, living in measure due to his presence. Solid Man was appreciated by those with whom he toiled, well respected by those with whom he served, an esteemed colleague, boss, and friend. Perhaps, he was even revered a bit, as only occurs with real solid guys. He had reached the top and the view was just fine.

    He was the beneficiary of all the system could offer. It was a system that was his system. It was a world designed by the empowered for the empowered, a world where the good were rewarded. His was the truth which said if you worked hard enough, if your choices were focused enough, if you were smart enough, then you could have it all, the whole dream. And the bad … well the bad got what they deserved. Convictions and fines and incarceration and death. The bad were dealt with so that the good might flourish. Grind them up and throw them out. Give them the justice they’ve earned. One bad apple, no need for the bunch to go bad.

    Then one day the sea came calling, not in the roar of the tempest, but in the soft whisper of a gentle current, moving him ever so slowly to another place. Carrying Solid Man to another reality, another place of hard tile hallways and plaster walls, a place where the lights rarely went out, but instead, constantly bathed the fences and bladed wire in their harsh and pervasive luminescence.

    At first, he thrashed about, swimming against the current with all his strength. Certainly, this must be some mistake. Certainly, the calling was meant for another. But like all seas, the force of the current could not be contained, the ever-present flowing of living water swept him forward, swept through his protective walls, into that which he could no longer control, into that place populated by the bad.

    And in a most surprising development, beyond his anxiousness, beyond his well-ordered universe where all pieces fit so precisely, beyond that point where there was little room for the bad, he found himself sitting at the round linoleum table, sitting in hard-backed plastic chairs and surrounded by convicts in a prison for youth and young adults. For three days, Solid Man sojourned with these, these who had broken the laws of his civil society, these who had lashed out at one another and the tidy reality from which he had come, these thieves, and drug dealers, and worse. For three days he sat at the head of a “table family” with these angry and violent young men. For three days he acted out the role he knew so well, the role he played out there, as he would learn from them, out “in the world.” For three days he acted as a “father” in this most bizarre family. Solid Man, here on a spiritual retreat with prisoners.

    It was only seventy-two hours, barely a moment in the realm of God’s cosmos, barely a blink really. And yet, a life-time. Slowly, each began to reach across those barriers which had been so well constructed. It happened in shared stories. It happened as they sang songs that were the songs his own children sang, out there, out in “the world.” It happened in a thousand different small gestures, the nuance of connection, and in the miracle of community. It happened in the infinity of the Spirit.

    Slowly, each began to open their souls to the other, finding a way through the wall of separation. Like water flowing through porous stone, their lives flowed into one another, an assimilation of hopes and dreams and hurts and pain. As each day unfolded, they found their individual lives swirling through and around the life of the other. As each day blossomed, nurtured by the living water, Solid Man found it more and more difficult to easily quantify the damaged young men, to dismiss them in singular terms. He found he could no longer look at them through the lens of the American dream. The life-giving current had grown to a flood, had over-flowed his heart, and could no longer be contained.

    On the last day, as the Solid Man sat with these prisoners, these who were the bad, as he lived out the last moments of “father,” he looked for words to make a difference, something that they might take with them, some way to say, “I love you, no matter what.” He cleared his throat, and with a shaky voice he began to speak.

    “I have always tried to be a good father. I have always been there for my children, seeking to guide them and love them, seeking to offer them a life where they would be safe and secure and productive and fulfilled. I have always tried to do this for them. As your father here at this table and over this time together, I have come to realize that though I have been there for my children, I have not been there for you.”

    He paused, choking back emotion, tears now flowing down his chiseled face. He looked around the table into the eyes of these whom he had once so easily dismissed, the refuse of society, the ones who had gotten what they deserved. He breathed deeply and then he said, “ So I just want to say to you … I just want to say … that I am so very proud of you.”

    “I’m so proud of you.”

    And in that moment, as the gentle waves of grace washed over the table, washed over us all, we knew resurrection, perhaps more than we had ever known anything. We knew resurrection through the broken voice of a once solid man, the sound that would forever be splashing through our souls – I am so proud of you.

    “… you give your house for a coral castle, and you learn to breath underwater.”

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      this, this is exactly why you have been missed here, Steve. Thank you for honoring us with this story. Such a different message than the corrupted version of Jerm.29: 11, promising us the American Capitalist’s Dream.