Summary: A look at the process God often uses in helping us to become the kind of people He wants for us to be.
What Does It Take to be Transformed?
Gladys Dunn was new in town and decided to visit the church nearest to her new apartment. She enjoyed the pretty sanctuary and the singing by the congregation, but the sermon went on and on. Worse, it wasn't very interesting. Glancing around, she saw many in the congregation nodding off. Finally it was over. After the service, she turned to a still sleepy-looking gentleman next to her, extended her hand and said, "I'm Gladys Dunn.” He replied, "You and me both!”
Have you ever been asked this question: “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?” Even though change isn’t something that gets embraced all to well (esp. at church), most of us are actually interested in change. More importantly, God is interested in change.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2).
A life that is never transformed is a great tragedy…it’s a wasted life. The fact of the matter is that transformation is a necessary part of spiritual maturity, and we need transformation if we’re going to continue growing in our walk with the Lord.
Usually, the transformation that most people experience is short-lived. Maybe we will be different for a little while, but it doesn’t have a permanent effect. That’s because instead of working on our true motives…what’s on the inside, we try to change the exterior, our outside behavior. But any lasting change must begin on the inside, and that’s a work of God.
In our passage this morning, we’re going to take a look at the process God often uses in helping us to become the kind of people He wants for us to be. This is truly an encouraging message…a message that says that we don’t have to stay in the valley; that God will help us transform, to overcome that weakness in our life. The passage that I’m talking about involves a guy by the name of Jacob, and his situation recorded for us in Genesis 32 was a turning point for him.
If you know anything about Jacob you know that he was pretty much a shady character. In fact, even his name means “cheater” or “schemer” in Hebrew. But this life-changing experience transformed him into a new person, and his name was changed to Israel…the name which was eventually used to name an entire nation. After that experience, Jacob was never the same again. He was indeed a new creation.
In this passage, we find Jacob all alone at night, wrestling with God until sunrise. You might be wondering, “What does a wrestling match that happened several thousand years ago have to do with transforming me today?” There are some important insights here that clearly define the four steps required for transformation. You just have to be willing to allow God to do it.
The first step is crisis. Jacob had this extremely long wrestling match with God, and he was struggling to say the least. I mean, can you imagine what it would be like wrestling with God? Logan and I will wrestle around on the floor for fun every once in a while and so I imagine it would be kind of like that. Jacob was at a major disadvantage; God was just toying with him. And so by the time the sun came out, Jacob was wore out! It was a situation that was beyond his control.
So the lesson we see here is that when God wants to transform us, He gets our attention by putting us in a frustrating situation that is completely beyond our control. We can’t win and we just keep getting more and more tired in the struggle. Because of our hard-headedness, God often has to use unpleasant situations in order to get our attention. So if you’re experiencing a difficulty right now, God may be getting you ready for transformation.
The first step required for transformation is to become fed up with your current situation. You can’t change if you are enjoying your sin. I talk to people all the time who say they want to change but their actions tell me something different. Until you get uncomfortable and become miserable enough with your situation, you’re not going to be motivated to allow God do something in your life. Transformation won’t come until your fear of change is outweighed by the pain you’re experiencing.
2. Commitment (Vv. 25-26)
The second step in the process of transformation is commitment. God, in what I imagine was a condescending tone, asked to be let go. Again, it’s kind of like me wrestling Logan. Sometimes I’ll ask him to let me go, but I could easily get him to let me go if I wanted to be free. In the same way, God could’ve easily freed Himself but He chose not to.