Techniques or Transformation?
Updated: Jun 6, 2018
We live in a technique-driven society. Everyone wants results and they want them fast. We go out and find an “expert” in their given field, read their ten steps to success concerning marriage, finances, or whatever area we find ourselves struggling in, and try to apply those ten steps to our lives and situations. Helpful? Sometimes. But more often than not, it doesn’t work. Simply adopting a few new techniques—which, again, can be helpful and needed—ignores the fact that humans, relationships, and our lives are filled with complexities and nuances we often don’t even recognize or understand. Although techniques can be helpful, what we really need is transformation.
The Work of The Lord
Transformation is God’s work—he specializes in it. He shapes our desires, changes our motivations, and gives us strength to change and eradicate destructive behavior patterns. God’s transforming work goes deep. It reorders our affections and changes the way we pursue joy, vitality, and happiness. He leads us to take the focus off of ourselves and our problems and to put it on Jesus and others—something only a transformed heart and life is able to do.
Transformation is uncomfortable—it takes time.
But in order to see growth and change in some areas of our lives, transformation is absolutely necessary. This means we must be patient and come to terms with not always having the answer or a quick-fix to our problems. In the midst of transformation is where we often learn to trust God, stand on his Word, and how to persevere in prayer.
But, honestly, most of us would rather trust in ourselves.
Just give us a technique we can implement so our problem goes away. See, a technique-driven life focuses on ourselves and only the present moment, but a life that is driven by being transformed has eternity in mind. Techniques come and go, but how we are transformed—both internally and externally—will last forever.
One Size Doesn't Fit All
How does transformation happen? Do we just sit back and hope our problems/sins go away? The real question you might be wondering is, “What technique do I need to use so I will be transformed?” But there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to that question. Although we are drawn to quick-fixes and may desperately want our situation changed now, God does his transforming work in a variety of different ways. Even over the course of one person’s life—depending on the season of life that they are in—they may notice that the way God is transforming them now differs from how he has done it in the past. Yes, there are common practices that must accompany transformation—prayer, studying God’s Word, repentance, Christian community, etc.—but what may bring lasting transformation or be the answer for one person may not necessarily have the same impact on another believer.
But there is a ‘technique’ that is key to leading and having a transformed life. I know, it is a bit ironic given the above paragraphs. So rather than call it a technique, let’s call it a ‘spiritual discipline’. There is a spiritual discipline that steers us towards transformation.
In the midst of our sin, difficult circumstances, and situations that seem to be weighing us down and breaking our hearts, we ache for an answer. We long to see change in ourselves, in our families, and in our world. Our souls cry out for transformation. So, what is the spiritual discipline that will help us?
This Psalm records the trying circumstances of several different people or groups of people. Due to common suffering and/or personal sin, the people talked about in this Psalm have found themselves in desperate need. More important than adopting some new techniques to get them out of their suffering, they cry out to the Lord for deliverance—and God answers. Prayer is closely and intimately related to living a transformed life, but it is not the spiritual discipline I think this Psalm highlights.
Each time the Lord brings deliverance, it ends the same way: “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man.” Each time, they thank the Lord in response. The conclusion of the Psalm states this: “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” Here is where we find the spiritual discipline.
The wise person—the one who is transformed and is blessed to see God move on their behalf—is a person who considers.
They look at their life and circumstances and, even if they have to squint and do a double-take, find and consider how God has, is, and will love them. They don’t solely focus on their sins and problems. They consider how, in the midst of their suffering, the Lord is loving them.
Forgetting is Dangerous
The foolish person forgets the heart and love of God. Rather than look for it, they simply want their problems to go away so life will be “easy.” The foolish person doesn’t consider the love God has shown them and makes decisions without reflecting upon it. They view their life outside of the church walls as something that is altogether separated from their relationship with Jesus. When we fail to consider the love of God, essentially forgetting what we must remember, we are led to dangerous places. We will be tempted to fill our lives with sin, hoping it takes the place of the love of God. We may try to find solutions to our problems relying on only our own wisdom and strength while blaming others (including God) for all that is wrong with us and/or our lives.
Think About It
The love of God is what transforms us. It captures our hearts and takes the place of lesser loves.
Our love for sin can only be crushed by a greater love—the love of Jesus.
This means transformation will require us to be mindful and reflective concerning the many ways God shows us love. We must make it a discipline to reflect on God’s love and to consider God’s steadfast love during trying times and difficult life circumstances. The love of God will change us in ways that both surprise and amaze us.