There is one term that can cause so many different emotions in people. The word is “change.” Some love the word, while others grow uncomfortable at the mere mention of it, and we all know there is no shortage of jokes about Lutherans and change. There are just about as many reactions to change as there are people in the world, but there is one interesting “change” that usually gets us all on board and that is inspiring stories of “change” in someone’s life.
There is something powerfully captivating when someone shares a story of true change in his or her life.
• She went from an ordinary life to stardom because of her hidden singing talent.
• He went from addiction and dangerous behavior to an upstanding citizen with a beautiful - family.
• She went from a dead-end job to creating something that revolutionized the market
• He went from a struggling student as a child to a Nobel prize winning scientist as an adult.
The Bible captures many accounts that tell of life change. Some that come to mind are:
• The tax collector Zacchaeus not only paid back what he had stolen from people, but he paid them back four times what he owed them!
• Saul/Paul went from persecuting Christians to proclaiming the good news of hope in Jesus Christ.
• The Samaritan woman at the well went from being the outcast of the community to being the one proclaiming the good news of Jesus to every neighbor that happened to cross her path.
• James and John, as well as Peter and Andrew, went from fulltime employment as fisherman to those who left everything behind, including their nets, their boat, and even their father still sitting in the boat!
These are startling stories of change that fascinate our curious minds. We ask ourselves, “How could they be so bold, so generous, so overjoyed, etc. that they made such a change?” I think we marvel at these stories of great life change because we know just how difficult it is to change our own lives. We have been working for years on changing this attitude or that behavior or this situation and yet the change never seems to happen. At least it doesn’t seem to come quickly. We often forget though that even for those in the Bible, change didn’t always happen overnight. No matter who we are, we have to deal with the slow, daily, difficult change of a sinful heart. Paul speaks of his own frustration, as he says, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” (Romans 7:15). Our sinful heart and flesh put up quite the resistance still, but we need not give up hope. Change doesn’t come easy, and it doesn’t always come with a life changing story, but it comes daily through the blessing and strength of our God. As Paul says elsewhere in the Scripture, “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me.” Our lives have been touched by the life and work of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We do not always see the slow and gradual growth at work in us over the years, but each of us has our own story to tell. Each of us has our own gifts and talents to offer. Each of us is called to grow in our faith and our walk with God, no matter where we are at on that journey. We give thanks to God that each and every day we are being shaped and molded by the forgiveness, love, and grace of our Savior, who holds us in his almighty hands.
Pastor Kurt Ebert
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)