By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
As recorded in Luke 17, Jesus once said to his closest friends… “Hard trials and temptations are bound to come.” (The MESSAGE). It’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible. He didn’t say… ‘might not,’ or ‘should not’… but rather Jesus said… “they will.” Hard trials and temptations are real! It’s that stark reminder that life is hard, unpredictable and often out of our control.
We love it when everything goes our way, right? But, then we’re upset with God or someone or something and maybe even ourselves when life goes off course. I think for most of us, we were never told in elementary school or high school… “life’s hard.” Nobody pulled us aside and said, “it doesn’t always go our way.” Maybe that’s why Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones had a huge hit and why so many sing along to… “you can’t always get what you want…” as it’s that ahah moment when we admit… “Ok, Jesus was right!”
Tough times always calls our faith into question. Faith matters and what we believe always helps us take another step forward. It’s like the conversation I had with a man my age this past week… “Pastor, this is how I see it,” he said. “People with love in their hearts will always love others and be open to being loved. Those who don’t have love in their hearts can’t love others and find it hard for others to love them.” That makes a lot of sense and helps keep perspective about life’s trials and when things don’t go our way. So, what do we do? How we act? What is our response?
Simple. Be open to change. Shift happens!
St. Paul noted that people can change. What’s required is a different state of mind.
“Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” he wrote to his Christian friends in Rome. His words provided clarity for us that if anyone sought transformation, a certain kind of renewal of the mind would need to take place. Ironically, transformation can take place at any time even if someone is not out to gain it. The key is to understand… the renewal of one’s mind… can happen on purpose or as a matter of God’s grace!
I hear a lot of people tell me (after they’ve attended a spiritual retreat or listened to a gifted speaker), “Pastor, I thought I was a Christian… but NOW…I really am a Christian…” as something happened at that retreat or in the middle of that lecture that made a difference in their view of God, the world and themselves... and they say it as if how their life has been has had nothing to do with how their life is now. Sheesh. The reality is that we cannot have one without the other. If life is a journey and God promises to be present from the beginning—through the middle and especially at the end…then perhaps what is experienced here is transformation at its God-given best and what needs to be noted is that our action got a response from God—-transformation.
I’m convinced that God is constantly transforming his creation along with each one of us. And as each one of us gets in on it… and if we are fortunate… then perhaps we can experience four or five or maybe even six moments of transformation in a lifetime so that we always see God, the world and ourselves a bit different than before. May this be true for you…especially when hard trials and temptations come along. Brian
Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi. Comments and questions can be sent to [email protected]