One of the greatest things about my vocation is that I get a front-row seat to witness life change and transformation. As a pastor, I frequently get to see and hear first-hand stories of the before and after. Once I was that… Now I am this. In the quiet of my office, I’ve heard sordid confessions of an all sorts of decadence. I’m grateful for a measure of grace-filled forgetfulness that allows me to unremember a lot of things and not to hang on to all the sleazy details. But the very best is to see those same individuals or couples walking a whole new path of integrity, honor and uprightness.
One of my favorite YouTube videos is the blue minivan on a narrow treacherous mountain road that makes a 23-point turn to go the opposite way. Take a look… https://youtu.be/YECeEGBe-kY . Incredible. Breath-taking. Scary. Terrifying. Death-defying. Whatever word or phrase you choose, would be accurate. The point is, he lived to tell about it. And, it was a complete turnaround
In Apostle Paul’s first-century writings to the followers of Jesus who lived in the city of Corinth, he wrote about some very gnarly and bizarre situations that had happened in their past, including a son having an incestuous relationship with his dad’s wife. The lengthy list of negative and egregious behaviors in 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 also include swindling, adultery, idol worship, deceit, greed, slander, drunkenness and more. Yet I love these words at the before and after junction as described in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Turn around. It can happen. And it isn’t because you have amazing driving skills or no fear of falling off the cliff. And yes, I’ve seen a few course corrections due to the hard efforts of disciplined and focused people. I’ve witnessed individuals adjusting the direction of their lives to improve themselves and avoid disastrous consequences. But the biggest turn arounds? They happen because of a much higher power. God Himself displays His supernatural power to cleanse, set apart as holy, purify, transform, redeem, and justify the once very unholy person who asks for help. I’ve witnessed it over and over again. I never get tired of seeing it. The truth is, I’m addicted to seeing lives change. Yet, the transformational power of God’s grace is always awe-inspiring to me. I never want to take it for granted even though I get to be an onlooker on a regular basis.
And by the way, if you are heading in a wrong direction or a dangerous and treacherous road and you need to turn around? It’s never too late. It won’t depend on your skill at the wheel. Let God do what only God can do. He’s the one who can transform and make new. The Creator of the world can make you a new creation. In his second letter to the community of Corinth in southern Greece, Apostle Paul wrote this truth: “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT).
QUESTION: What stories of transformation have you seen in others or in your own life? I’d love to hear more in the comments below.