Tuesday, 5 April 2016
Passages for April 10, 2016
Acts 9:1-20, Psalm 30, Rev. 5:11-14, John 21:1-19
(Note: Since writing this post, I found out that this Sunday's speaker is using the doubting Thomas story, not the ones I have listed. Guess we have a little extra thinking for this weekend!)
How does change happen for someone? We all love the dramatic "turn-around" stories. Tales that fit into categories like rags to riches, addict to anti-drug crusader, chunky couch potato to fitness guru.
We love the contrast of the before and after of a dramatic makeover, but I always wonder, what happens next? Lottery winners often go broke, rehab is revisited, and fitness turns to flab.
The story of Saul's (Paul's) life features a makeover that sticks. His conversion is dramatic; blinding light, voice of Jesus, faithful God inspired intervention, healing, and proclamation. When opposition comes and Paul's life is threatened, he keeps going. His makeover is permanent.
Most of us aren't going to experience a dramatic conversion from or to anything. In fact, I'd guess most of us might experience the slow, painstaking change of weight loss, only to have the pounds creep back. Or invest in some education or job training to discover that it's not really what we are suited for (or there are no jobs), or perhaps the faith you thought was strong bleeds away under the pressure of grief.
How does change stick? How does the makeover look once you are back to your old routines?
There are reasons that Paul's change sticks. One is a passionate personality. When Paul commits to something, he fully gives of himself. Another piece is that his change is in line with God's purpose for him. Verse 15 says; "...he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings..." A third "stickiness" comes in the faithful community. Ananias listens to God and instructs Paul. Once Paul starts sharing his experiences, other Jesus followers help him (even lowering him out of the city in a basket!)
Our own needed changes, conversions, may not be so dramatic, but the same things can help them stick. We have to believe passionately in order to maintain energy for change. We need to be in line with what God wants for us. We need a faithful community around us for mutual teaching, support, and sometimes even rescue.
Psalm 30 is a makeover story too. The psalmist thanks God for taking him from death to life. (Not sure if this is a recovery from illness, or a rescue from enemies.)
John 21 is a great story of how a slight (not dramatic-just putting nets in on the other side) change in perception or actions can instigate change. I like how this story emphasizes that the change on our part is something we can handle, if we listen to Jesus, and that it is up to God to produce the results!
Question: What in your life needs change? Is there anything encouraging in these scriptures that might help your change to stick?
Note: The following link takes you to a children's story I wrote to accompany the Acts scripture. It is part of a series of stories commissioned by Mennonite Church Canada to go along with the lectionary passages for the Easter to Pentecost 2016.