What Transformation Is and Isn't

Your marriage is a mess. You’re struggling with an addiction. Fear or confusion or sin has sunk its hooks in your brain. Circumstances in your past have left you deeply wounded. You desperately need things to be different, and you know God wants things to be different for you. What will that transformation look like? What can you expect?

It would feel wonderful if there were some magic formula to experience instant transformation when we want it. Sometimes God works miraculous beam-me-up transformations in your life and circumstances, but more often the path to transformation feels frustrating to us.

During my own growing-up out of my “years of hell” the process seemed so slow. I learned to pray over and over again, “God, just don’t stop with me!” Giving God permission, over and over again, to keep that transformation going in your life will make a big difference.

Understanding these facets of what transformation IS and ISN’T will help you along the way.

Speed vs. Process

Despite our impatience, God’s usual method of transforming us is a process. He doesn’t care nearly so much about our speed as our direction. In light of eternity even our longest lifetime here is very short. Tweet that. That doesn’t mean we can get by with slacking off, but it does mean lasting change almost always happens over time.

If you’ve given God permission to work in you, He’s well able to facilitate whatever process you need to go through. Paul wrote, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Your job is to stick around. Don’t run away or quit when the path isn’t as straight or smooth as you wish. Most of the time the process is as important to God – and to your eventual transformation – as the end result.

Your Work vs. God’s Work

If you try to transform yourself, you’ll wear yourself out. If you sit back and wait for God to do everything for you, you’ll become frustrated and disillusioned. It’s you and God working together. On this one, it’s both-and.

Again from Paul, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13) We work, and God works.

Without God working, we can do nothing. (John 15:5) And we work too. Our cooperation with God results in our transformation. We work together.

For Whose Benefit?

Your transformation is not primarily for your own benefit. Yes, your transformation will result in a whole lot of benefits to you. Your jail visits are more likely to be for ministry instead of as an inmate. You are likely to live longer and healthier. Your spouse and children are more likely to be happier and your home and marriage more satisfying. You’re more likely to feel peace, love, and joy.

But God does not primarily take you through the transformation process to make you feel better; it’s primarily for the impact you then make for others. As you develop a lifestyle of victory over anger, fear, addiction, or any other brokenness your story becomes a means of extending God’s kingdom to others. You have so much more to give. You begin to lift others up instead of tear them down. Their lives are better because of you.

Greater still, your transformation is the biggest advertisement that God is who He says He is, that Jesus has won against the enemy, and that the kingdom of God is real and eternal. Your transformation brings God glory. And that can happen with every transformation, regardless of what happens with your outward circumstances.

Inside vs. Outside

Transformation is NOT a sudden external change in your circumstances. Sometimes God suddenly heals you of an illness, brings you a dramatic financial blessing, or instantly removes a craving for pornography or drugs. But more often the transformation He brings is a change in you that begins on the inside, at the heart level. The change that begins internally then results in outward change.

The transformation God works in you may be the reworking of your eating habits such that your health dramatically improves. It may be a new outlook on business such that you’re no longer looking for an employer to “take care of” you, but for where you can add ever-increasing value in either a job or your own creative business. It may be a change in your heart that leads you to love your spouse or children in a new way, or a healing of inner wounds that gives you the strength to persist in overcoming an addiction.

When transformation begins on the inside it’s more permanent and real. This is not just window-dressing; you are becoming someone different. 

Isn’t that what God has always been about? You and I are given the privilege of becoming like Jesus. “Conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29) And it’s not only a privilege; it’s our calling.

Will you pray, “Lord, don’t stop with me!”

Your Turn: What do you think of when you hear “transformation?” Does your picture of transformation need to be adjusted in some way? Leave a comment below.

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  • The transformation God wants for you is the result of you and God working together. It’s not instant, easy, or external. You are becoming someone different from the inside out.   Tweet that.

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