No matter whether you identify with saintly John or reckless Peter, all is well for both of these were characters in need of transformation! Both were with the Lord when he was himself ‘transfigured’ in front of their eyes up that special mountain. You may have a special place where you find it easier to feel close to God, perhaps even like the one pictured, but he doesn’t need to take you there to transform you! God has been working on you, your character and your spiritual maturity ever since you first worked out that he loves you. You are a work in progress and God sees already the finished product so he’s not about to give up on you – he knows all the experiences, circumstances, people, times of plenty and want that you need in the stages of your refining. Be encouraged and recognise God’s continuing work in making you into what you will yet become.
How do you see your life so far? Success or failure, perhaps a bit of both? Did it ever occur to you that a plant needs both sunshine and rain, the potter at the wheel shapes the clay until it’s finished and those first disciples got so many things wrong before they finally got it right? Take heart and know that God is still at work – when you’re ready, you’ll know because you will have a deep inner assurance that you will receive his loving welcome and affirmation as his child, no matter what you’ve done. God never gives up on us – he’s given us his Son to save us and his Spirit to make us holy. You need nothing more for failure to turn to success.
- ‘You Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand’ – Isaiah 64:8
- ‘The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: This one was born in Zion. As they make music they will sing, All my fountains are in you’ – Psalm 87:6-7
How different is the ‘worldly’ view of success and failure!
- ‘All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure’ – Mark Twain
- ‘Success to me is having ten honeydew melons and eating only the top half of each slice’ – Barbra Streisand
- ‘Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result’ – Oscar Wilde
- ‘It is no use saying, “We are doing our best.” You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary’ – Winston Churchill
One person’s view of success is seen by another as failure and vice versa. Mother Teresa sees beauty in poverty whilst Donald Trump states, ‘Part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich!’ Here are some views of failure to compare with your own thoughts:
- ‘My life has been nothing but a failure’ – Claude Monet
- ‘Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it’ – Mia Hamm
- ‘Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure’ – Thomas A. Edison
- ‘Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success’ – C S Lewis
The thing is to learn that it’s really not all down to us! Christ Jesus came to bring grace and truth – this is life to the full, a freedom that knows he has satisfied all the demands of the Law and so we don’t have to. Jesus is so admirable and worthy of worship because he fulfilled all the Law and the prophecies about him, and you get to be transformed because of his work not yours. The transforming power of the cross is still at work in the lives of those who invite and allow it, just like The Potter spinning the wheel and working with his hands to get the finished product.
God even works in our failure and can bring good out of it. If God’s children are all works in progress, how does this transformation work? Contrast these three perspectives:
- ‘It's a new challenge to see how people can change your look. I like words like transformation, reinvention, and chameleon’ - Naomi Campbell
- ‘Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It's a journey of discovery - there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair’ - Rick Warren
- ‘I hate how hard spiritual transformation is and how long it takes. I hate thinking about how many people have gone to church for decades and remain joyless or judgmental or bitter or superior’ - John Ortberg
It’s certainly not a shallow thing as some might see but rather it is a life-time process. Three examples to consider of transformation: the bulb which becomes the fragrant lily, the caterpillar that becomes the beautiful butterfly, the baby who becomes Queen Elizabeth ll. The outward transformation of the bulb and caterpillar take relatively quick seasons but the profound Christian witness, maturity and wisdom of the Queen of England came about through over 90 years including many disappointments, war and family tragedies.
Jesus sees the end at the same time as the beginning because he is Alpha and Omega. Time after time, he gently restores people to their potential in him – Thomas, Mary, Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman and Peter. It’s no different for those who follow him today, for which we give him the utmost thanks.
- ‘Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything’ – James 1:4
- ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified’ – Romans 8:28-30
- ‘And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ – 2 Corinthians 3:18
- ‘But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold’ – Job 23:10
- ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will’ – Romans 12:2
- ‘You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness’ – Ephesians 4:22-24
- ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”’ – Jeremiah 29:11
- ‘Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’ – 1 John 3:2
- ‘Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality’ – 1 Corinthians 15: 51-53
Let the work of transformation continue until the final transformation reveals the end product!
TAGS – transforming, changing, degree of glory, improvement, sanctification