Thank you for praying for our family, and for David. I have really loved our current series, and appreciate that I have been able to openly share some pretty vulnerable things in my life. To be able to share honestly, and know you are still fully loved and accepted is incredible place to be.
Living Hope has always been a church about transformation, filled with people whose lives have changed, and I have been thinking this week about how we often want things to be different, but we don’t want to go through the pain or the process of getting the result. Whether it’s changing the way we eat, exercising, counseling, or quitting a habit, we want the end result but we hate the process.
One of my all time favorite verses is found in Romans. “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
This word transformed is one of the most beautiful words in the original language. In the Greek it is the word “metamorphoo”, it looks like this: μεταμορφόω It is the root of our word “metamorphosis” and means to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure.
The word “metamorpho” means "transform" in the way that you become something that you weren't before (like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly). It means to change into another form completely. When you think about it, there's kind of permanence about it. A butterfly doesn't change back into a caterpillar. Another definition is to change the outside to match the inside.
The Bible says that when we come to Christ we are a brand new creation. But transformation takes effort and struggle sometimes, most times in fact. When I first became a Christian I heard this story and it really helped me understand the process of change God uses to transform us into a new creation. Check it out:
“One day a man found a butterfly cocoon. He watched the cocoon for several days. One day a tiny opening appeared in the cocoon. He sat very still and watched as the butterfly struggled for several hours to force itself through the tiny hole of its cocoon. Then it seemed to stop making progress. It appeared to the man as if the butterfly had gone as far as it could, and could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly out of the cocoon. He snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon with scissors, and the butterfly emerged effortlessly. He waited, excited to see it fly. There was something strange, however. The butterfly had a swollen body, and its wings were shriveled. The man watched closely, expecting that the wings would enlarge and expand to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact the butterfly was never able to fly. Though the man had acted in kindness, what he did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the small opening of the cocoon are God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready to fly once it has achieved its freedom from the cocoon." (Author unknown).
God knows that the struggle is what forms, shapes, and strengthens us for what lies ahead. It is the struggle that turns our potential into the promise of something better and more beautiful than what was. I feel like I am pounding the drum on this issue when I say that we always quit too soon. We want to be ‘cut out of the problem’. We want the easy way out, but it’s the problem and the mess that create the message of our lives. Or as we learned last week, It is the test that creates the testimony. In the struggle God is creating something beautiful.
I wonder how many of us take the easy way out, and can never fly the way God intended us to. I want to leave you this week with three steps for surviving the struggle.
Accept there is a mess. This happens in your mind. Ask God to reveal the areas in your life that need to change. Be honest about where you are at, and what is holding you back. Information in and of itself is not the goal, it is a vehicle to transformation. Our minds have to be renewed for how we think about ourselves, our money, our family, our purpose.
Struggle better. This happens in your heart. Don’t allow your attitude to get bad towards your situation. Look at this verse in Philippians: For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. Philippians 1:29
When we struggle well, it becomes an offering to God, and opens the door for him to work. Don’t quit too soon! Don’t take the easy way out, and as a result alter the outcome. Stay in the struggle, and allow God to complete the good work He has started in you. Charles Stanley once said “It is discipline, not desire that creates destiny”. Don’t allow others to ‘rescue you’. Family and friends may want to ‘cut you out’ of the cocoon, but trust God to see what you can’t see. He will not let you go.
Know that God has a purpose in it. Never forget that God is building something more beautiful than you can imagine. He has a promise for your life, and plans good for you. Don’t allow doubt or fear to steal your potential, but stay firm in your faith, and trust that God has it in control.
I love this verse in Isaiah 40:3: “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
ASK God today for His strength as you trust Him in the struggle.