you know what I’m talking about – like one of those makeovers on Good Morning America. They pick women from the crowd outside watching their show and totally transform them – well new hair color and cut, new make up and new clothes and shoes. It’s fun and the results are dramatic. Those women are totally transformed before our eyes. I celebrate with them as I watch from my living room.
But how long will it last I wonder? Thing is, this makeover transforms the outside while leaving the inside untouched and unchanged. I’ve often thought a makeover would be fun. (Who doesn’t love new shoes and somebody else doing your hair?) But a makeover doesn’t satisfy my need or my longing for a total transformation from the inside out.
Paul had one of those, a total transformation, and it was pretty dramatic. So dramatic in fact, that it required a name change to go along with it. He was Saul, then he became Paul. Saul was a persecutor of Christians. Paul became the one persecuted because he was a Christian. Saul put people in prison for their faith. Paul was put in prison by people such as he had been, for that same faith.
From the persecutor to the persecuted – total transformation does that to a person.
Maybe that’s why Paul wrote so much about rejoicing in all his hardships and suffering, he was glad to do it for the Jesus he loved so much – who had loved him so much first.
So much so in fact, that Jesus had sought Saul out while Saul was busy causing harm to those who followed Jesus. He went so far as to make Saul blind so that he could see the light and realize who Jesus really was – the Messiah that Saul had been waiting for and watching for all of his life – and this Messiah had come and gone and Saul had missed Him – until that day on the road to Damascus where Saul met his Maker and received his makeover.
Saul’s total transformation began with him being made blind for three days. He had been blind to Jesus’ true identity and this physical blindness would be the way in which Saul would gain his spiritual sight. “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ ” (Acts 9:4-5)
Thus began Saul’s total transformation. A blinding light, a personal encounter with Jesus and Saul was now Paul. All his energy and enthusiasm, all his dedication and desire, which Saul had used to persecute the followers of Christ – Paul used to serve the Jesus he now knew and loved.
God had a purpose and a plan for Paul – which necessitated a total transformation of this man before he could be used by God for His good purposes. “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man (Saul/Paul) is My chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.’ ” (Acts 9:15-16)
I would like a dramatic, totally transforming makeover of myself. I could be the new me, whatever that would look like – just like the ladies on Good Morning America – quick, miraculous, painless transformation. They just had to show up, to present themselves as available, to trust those in charge of hair, make up, wardrobe etc. and then to let those professionals do their jobs and work their miracle.
There is a transformation coming for me that will be quick and painless like that one. “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)
This is a total transformation that lasts forever! I will be clothed with the imperishable! Now that’s a wardrobe that not only lasts but never goes out of style! I love that it takes place “in the twinkling of an eye”. Nothing like I am experiencing now in my daily life amid the mundane as it were.
You see, I am being transformed even now. It’s just not one of those blinding light, twinkling of an eye kind of transformations. It’s a long, slow, painful process yielding results not always readily recognizable. This transformation is so gradual that it is mostly imperceptible while in progress. Results are not always visible except maybe in hindsight. This is true for the climber who labors one small step at a time ever upward, putting one foot in front of the other, not realizing how far he has come, until he looks down and sees that he has indeed made progress.
Like water wearing away at rock – rounding, smoothing, perfecting, beautifying, bringing out all the hidden layers, patterns, designs and colors in the rock – not seen immediately, but revealed over time – this is the transformation that takes a lifetime- this is what my Creator is accomplishing in me as He works in me slowly, patiently, gently but persistently – until His work in me is finished.
God is continually pouring over me – “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) His good purpose of a total transformation in me from the inside out, making me more like Christ, a little at a time – chipping, chiseling, wearing and washing away everything in me that does not belong there, everything that does not bring glory and honor to Him as my Creator – so that all that is left is the beauty He created in me which will one day be revealed, like the beauty hidden in the rocks – (no instant gratification or quick fixes on this transformation plan)
But like the ladies getting their morning makeover, I do have to make myself available, to present myself, to give myself up into my Heavenly Father’s hands and to trust Him to do the work of transformation that He wants to do in me.
“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
sincerely, Grace Day