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When Transformation Takes Its Time

The Bible tells us that if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creature—that through him, our old selves pass away and we are made new. (II Corinthians 5:17)

I remember how I used to think of it as a little kid, the word "creature" conjuring an image of a hideous monster that went down into the baptismal waters and came out as something reborn. That Beauty and the Beast image made an impact on me as a kid, but one thing I've had to learn since giving my life to Christ is that spiritual transformation doesn't happen in a blink.

Maybe you've struggled with this. I know I have. You've chosen to follow Jesus, repented of your sins and surrendered your life to him—now's the part where you shed your faults forever and run off into the sunset in a state of perfection, right?

Hah. If only our faults were so easily sloughed off. The fact is, sanctification is a lifelong process—a journey in which Jesus uses life experiences and tests of faith to chip away at our flaws, round out our gifts, and shape us into his image day by day. It can be tempting to take this process into our own hands—I know, because I've felt that temptation. Sometimes we may feel like Jesus isn't working fast enough. We're Christians now, so we need to do a, b, and c as naturally as breathing, we need to be constant beacons of joy, we need to be impregnable, like Apostle Paul, like Jesus.

Sometimes I fall into the trap of micro-managing my sanctification. Okay, so I want a closer relationship with Christ. I want to pray more, so I'll schedule it: I'll pray on every hour, before every meal, and between every class, like clockwork. Just follow the Transformation Plan.

Except here's the thing: Jesus is the one that transforms us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. And whether we like it or not, he is working at his own, perfect pace. We need to cooperate with that transformative work, we need to do our part to make the right choices and to strive for our spiritual betterment, but at the end of the day, we need to be able to trust that Christ is working in us, at the perfect pace, in the perfect ways, to accomplish the perfect goal as only he can see it.

He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

~Philippians 1:16a

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