Recently I have grown increasingly aware of God’s relentless grace patiently and quietly pursuing me. In spite of all my arguments, excuses, and accusations against him, he continues to follow, refusing to let go, refusing to let me remain unchanged.
I haven’t always thought I needed to change much: I grew up in a strong, loving, Christ-following family. I’ve had good self-confidence since I was young, bolstered by success that has come fairly easily. I married a woman with an equally strong upbringing, whose talents continue to amaze me, and together we have three kids with good looks, better-than-average intelligence, and winsome personalities. The stories of transformation I’d heard usually involved radical change from lives of addiction, abuse, crime, and so on.
I wonder, though, if transformation is actually harder for those whose depravity is less obvious. I don’t hear people talking about being transformed from lives of pride or greed. Maybe their pride led them to an affair, or their greed resulted in drug addiction, and they later repented and were changed from those very public signs of brokenness. But the underlying sins? The pride, the greed, the gluttony? No, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a lifelong Christian talk about being transformed from those.
I’m pretty introspective, and the challenges that I’ve faced over the past few years – failure, unemployment, spiritual doubts – have turned me inward. In the valley it is easy to be misled by one’s inner thoughts; inappropriate self-doubt can creep in. At the same time, reflection can reveal truth about ourselves that has been hidden under layers of worldly success and well-practiced confidence. The trick is to sort through, to weed out the truth from the error, the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. And to figure out what to do about the truth that needs to be transformed. And, hardest of all, to submit to God’s transforming work.
I don’t know how a caterpillar feels when it’s in a cocoon or a bird in an egg. I don’t think either is a particularly comfortable position, though. Neither is transformation. It’s hard, painful, challenging, terribly uncomfortable. It’s also necessary, and can’t be rushed. Yet God’s grace is relentless, pursuing us in and through the process of changing us to reflect more of his image…the image in which we were created in the first place. And that can’t be bad!