Monday, November 30, 2009

Challenge of Structural Change

Frank stepped out of bed one morning into pools of water. To his amazement his house was flooded by a broken supply pipe to his toilet. He diligently vacuumed up the water and rewaxed his floor, but found days later that the brief flood had done its deep damage. His house needed major renovation! So for two months work crews swamped his house, tearing up flooring and removing cupboards, doors and even fixtures. He attempted to live out of his torn up house, moving from room to room as necessary. He even resorted to “bucket baths” as the plumbing was totally reworked. Well, several months later, thousands of dollars later, many bucket baths later, and many fast food meals later Frank invited us over for a look at the transformation. He had a “new” house! The new wood flooring throughout the house glowed! The bathroom was completely remodeled with modern fixtures and tiled floor and walls. And every closet and cupboard had glossy new louver doors. What a transformation and what a cost!

His story reminded me about the true costs of radical change and transformation. Jesus truly advocated for radical change in his listeners. Not just a change in life style, although that was clear, but a change in heart perspectives and motivations. He was calling on people to tear up old flooring and damaged fixtures. That to me is the most demanding change anyone could ask. It’s not demanding because I don’t want to change, because I really do. But its demanding first because I don’t quite know how to change those deep things like my inbred way of looking at things and the driving engines of my life that have been evolving and fine tuned over the years. Jesus’ truth shines dazzling light on my faulty perspectives and motives in such a way that I am convinced something must change. But, how? How do I change something that has taken decades (yes really) to formulate and solidify? In a house it is fairly easy – rip it up and replace it. How do you do that with faulty motives?

Secondly, changing heart perspectives and motivations is daunting because when I do change them I am shifting and moving foundations and structures supporting many of my patterns of thinking and behavior. Jesus is really asking me to dismantle part of my house while I’m living in it! And who knows what will be affected and what “treasures” have to be removed and tossed. I’m sure Frank would never have chosen to have his life turned up side down for several months, but in the end it was worth it. Jesus challenges me to invite the chaos that facilitates transformational change!

And lastly, making such deep dramatic changes is challenging because of the potential impact it can have on others, especially those close to me. They may actually be praying for change but might be alarmed at the change outcomes! On the other hand, they may have adapted to relating to me just the way I am and any changes I make will throw them into a chaos of confusion, “I thought I knew how to relate to this person. She’s not the same as before!” And they may actually rejoice in the new me that God creates as I am transformed like we rejoiced with Frank and his “new” house!

I am convinced that Jesus knew the inherent difficulties of change when he stood before the crowds and flung out his challenges. He is convinced of the end product of change and lovingly invites us to open up our house to major renovation. He promises to supervise the process and guarantees the outcome. I don’t know about you, but I’m signing up for radical renovation.

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