I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a church rat. Contrary to popular rumors my mom did not give birth to me in the baptismal tank, but I pretty much grew up around the church. Developed my social circles there. “Found myself” amongst the pews and hymnals.
And as surprising as this may be to some of you–I’m grateful for that. I don’t remember one day when I wouldn’t have considered myself a sincere follower of Christ (even during the MTV rebellion of ’89).
I remember praying the magic salvation prayer for the first time in my bedroom when I was about 5 years old.
And then again at church on a Sunday morning (or seven….seventeen….ok, seventy).
And at church camp (every July from 1986 through the first Bush administration).
And those were good moments. Beautiful moments. Of decision. Of conviction. When my soul responded to a prick of the Holy Spirit and my heart surrendered to the voice of the Master.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past three (ok, nearly four) decades, it’s that transformation is a journey. A process. It may start with a momentary decision, but it’s all about movement and motion.
Last week I wrote a post defending church people, outlining our imperfections, admitting our humanity, and asking for a little grace (that we often forget to give). Not surprisingly, I got some push-back. But not from church haters. From church people.
“If the church is full of flawed human beings, how and when do the broken people get healed? If we’re just the same as everybody else, then what’s the point?” A valid question. If Jesus really is who we say He is, when do we get “better?” When does the change come?
My answer: It’s an ongoing journey of discovery, repentance, healing, & grace. Jesus isn’t a momentary magic elixir, He’s an active pursuit.
My adventure started with a simple bedroom prayer over 30 (some) years ago. Since then, it’s had numerous twists and turns and countless highs and lows. The most recent leg has been scary. Painful. Gut-wrenching. About 36 months long. And it’s not quite over yet.
I’ve outlined quite a bit of it here on the blog. I’ve been a meticulous people pleaser. I determined my value by how others perceived me. It’s rooted in some old wounds of rejection, and vehemently protected by lies about who I am and how God perceives me.
Three years ago, a few good books, some challenging sermons, and a dear friend helped shine light on those lies and the idols they had fashioned in my life.
Then over time, with the help of strong community, I began to acknowledge and ask forgiveness for embracing those deceptions. Not just a one-time prayer, but an ongoing recognition of when I was falling back into old habits and patterns, asking Jesus to do what only He can do to help me combat it.
As recently as this week (over 3 years later!), I’ve begun to notice different responses to my old sinful triggers. I’m stronger. Bolder. I know Who gives me value. I don’t own things that aren’t mine to own. I’ve changed.
And the journey continues. New legs. New adventures. New discoveries. More repentance. Unending forgiveness. Renewed healing. Ongoing transformation. A journey of grace–that’s how we change.
How have you seen transformation happen in your life?