In the past, I think I was committed to what I’ll call the short path to personal transformation.
Let me clarify what I meant by “transformation” in my teenage years and for quite some time beyond. Having been a Christian for as long as I could remember, I understood everything using the esoteric language of the Christian subculture I grew up in. So to talk of transformation was to speak only of “spiritual” change, which was primarily a change of heart, not a change in the ways I physically interacted with the world around me. I’m not sure how this message was communicated, but somehow I had distinctly different categories for spiritual and physical transformation.
In order to experience the kind of changes in my life that I hoped would come, it would have meant that I would be sprawled out on an altar somewhere at a special youth event, feeling all the emotion that comes with the amount of emotional baggage that I carried. I could experience “revival” in those moments and walk away with a fresh energy. I was convinced that I was now better equipped to serve God. I’m calling that the short path, and it’s one that looks good at the start but the way quickly becomes overgrown with the worries of this life.
I know that those moments of high emotion are milestones which can be important, but I’ve come to a conclusion: I prefer the long journey.
I want to be changed over the long haul and take ownership of my decisions. Like the decision to live rightly and love others. Like the decision to humble myself. Like the decision to treat my body like the temple that it is. Like the decision to love my wife and son well. Like the decision to face a difficult situation head-on, believing that God is transforming me WHILE i’m making those decisions. The Scriptures make it clear that we must invite God’s Spirit to lead and empower us into those decisions, but they are still ours to make.
So how do I mark the longer path to personal transformation? I think the answer lies in all the little decisions that make up my life. I decide, each time I can, to love and serve God with my lips, my hands and my feet. However long that road may take.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
~ Robert Frost