One of the things that is clear, as we study the lives of those who followed Christ, is that, over time, their lives were changed. Consider the amazing transformations: Peter, who was impulsive and denied the Lord three times, became the apostle of steadfastness. (The theme of steadfastness under trial is the main focus of the epistles he penned). John, who was known as a "son of thunder (a man with temper management problems) became the apostle of love (as evidenced in the epistles he wrote). And Paul, who at first was a persecutor of the church, became one of the church's great apostles and missionaries. In each of these cases (and in many others) through their relationship with Christ their lives were changed. As we continue our journey through the season of Lent, I am convinced that our lives can be changed too...
In each of the examples mentioned above, a weakness of character or personality was transformed into a quality that God could use for the purpose of His kingdom. Is there a character fault (or incident of failure) that needs to be transformed for you? I would invite you to consider the following question: When I come to the end of the season of Lent (Easter Sunday) how are you hoping your life might be changed? Another way would be to ask: If you were to come to Easter Sunday and found that the very qualities that once held you back had been transformed into qualities that now sustain you, nurture you, and help move you forward, how would your life be different? The reality is that as you move through the season of Lent your life can be changed. For this to happen three things are needed:
1. Identify what needs to be changed and how your life will be different when this change takes place. Perhaps you struggle with impatience and you desire to be more long-suffering. Perhaps you struggle with resentment and you need to find a measure of forgiveness. Perhaps you struggle with procrastination and you need to become a person who can take action and move forward. Whatever the issue is for you, identify it and try to picture how your life would be different if this problem was resolved.
2. Keep your eyes fixed on the One who has the power to bring change to your life. So often we try to make changes in our life through the power of our own strength. When we do this, frequently we fail. In our own strength it is difficult for us to change ourself and through our efforts we frequently become exhausted. But when we keep our eyes on God, our attention is focused on One who has the power to transform the very fabric of our soul. Paul says it like this: "Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Col. 3:1-3)
3. Begin to look for "signs of change" in your life and live your life in the power of this change. Through the eyes of faith we need to being to look for the evidence that God is at work in our life bringing about the change we so long for. Initially, the evidence of God's transforming work may be small. But as we begin to live in the power of this transformation the evidence of this change will surely grow.
The truth is, almost everyone is hoping and praying that some aspect of their life will change. I am convinced that for each of us, through the power of Christ, Lent can be a true Season for Change.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.