Yesterday, I launched a 12 week fall Bible study at my church. About 20 women gathered and there was much excitement as we opened chapter 1 and began to unearth the gems contained there. I am glad to be studying with these women and eager to consider the essential role of the Holy Spirit in spreading the good news about Jesus. Luke is so precise–such a researcher–and committed historian. He records the events that allow us to observe people being changed from the inside out! When thinking about that change I remembered these thoughtful words:
“Is it really possible to change?…The word “really” is the issue. In many people’s minds, change must be nearly complete–at least dramatic–or it doesn’t count…If efforts to restore a drab marriage lead only to a flicker of warmth, then perhaps it hasn’t really changed…Evangelicals sometimes expect too much or, to put it more precisely, we look for a kind of change that God hasn’t promised…We manage to interpret biblical teaching to support our longing for perfection.
As a result, we measure our progress by standards we will never meet until heaven…We therefore claim God’s power as the guarantee of total change from pressure to peace, from disappointment to joy–and then live with an intolerable burden that either crushes us with despair or requires us to pretend we are better than we are. The idea that peace and joy might merely support us during times of struggle and sorrow rather than eliminate those times is not appealing.
We want to do away with the necessary pain of living in a disappointing world as imperfect people. We insist on experiencing neither pain nor failure, so when the inevitable happens, it becomes reason for discouragement. But there are unnecessary problems that develop when we insist that necessary pain be eliminated…If we were convinced that the trauma of learning to trust God would really change us, we might be willing to endure it. But real change is available now; it’s just not the kind of change we want. We insist that the real change that heaven will bring (an end to all pain) be ours today. That insistence is the problem that we must overcome if real change that’s possible now is to occur.” ((Larry Crabb, Inside Out, NavPress, 1988, 203-205))
O Father, you are the Potter; I am the clay–it has never occurred to me before that my desire to change–my hopes for moral renovation might be rushing your timetable–or that it springs from a root of pride that wants to look better in other’s eyes right now! I sense, that through Acts you will teach me to want the change you want to do in me! What an adventure it is to live under the molding influence of your Spirit. Amen