Authored by Steve Hearts
It’s certainly true that the Creator designed each of us with a variety of traits and characteristics. This includes likes, dislikes, habits, opinions. Yet our Maker wasn’t content to simply “leave us be” once we were created. He happily transforms, changes, and renews us when need be—giving us the chance to become better, happier, and more like Him.
Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”1 I see being “conformed to the pattern of this world” as being rigid, inflexible, and set in our ways—closing ourselves to new alternatives—while God’s transformation process is available to us on a continual basis. I believe God is always willing to bring us through a renewal of mind, especially when we are open to it.
I’d like to share some examples of my own transformation process so far.
As a kid, I did not like potatoes and was sure I never would. Every time they were served, I was unable to hide my displeasure. My mother suggested, “Why don’t you ask the Lord to help you like potatoes?” I decided to follow her advice, and to my surprise, although I didn’t expect it to work, it did. I gradually came to enjoy potatoes and still do to this day.
As a child, I also had a strong sweet tooth. I would reluctantly work my way through the main course of a meal, wondering why dessert couldn’t be served first. But with God’s help, I came to pretty much lose that strong desire for sweet over other tastes. Actually, I hardly ever eat sweets now unless they are offered to me.
The Lord has shown me to be open to the “new” in regard to my ministry for Him. For as long as I can remember, I had a strong passion for music. As I grew older, I became certain that music was my life’s calling—especially performing. But the Lord guided me to use my musical talents to witness to people in a more personal way. This meant that as I was talking to someone about Jesus or counseling them through their difficulties, I’d use music to comfort them or deliver a message.
As I became aware of how lives were being transformed through this personal nature, I gradually lost interest in performing. Of course, I’ll perform when an opportunity opens up, but personal witnessing is what I love.
The Lord has even transformed my taste in music quite a bit, in ways I thought most unlikely. As a teenager—and even during early adulthood—I loved alternative rock and hated country music. I was quite certain this would never change. But as I got older, my appetite for alternative rock diminished and my enjoyment in country music grew.
In sharing this, I’m neither putting down nor promoting either of these genres. I’m simply relating how I learned not to be closed to change and transformation.
Sometimes we close ourselves to certain things or avoid certain places, because they touch areas of our hearts that have somehow been wounded and are thus sensitive.
For several years, I dreaded going into hospitals and nursing homes, since they triggered painful memories of my mother and grandfather—both of whom died of cancer. For a while after they passed away, my nightly dreams were of their illness and their departures from this world. Going into either a hospital or a nursing home for any reason would only make these dreams worse. Although I’m not able to see, I’ve discovered that hospitals and nursing homes smell the same no matter where you go.
As time passed, the Lord made it clear that He wanted to help me overcome my fears and that it was time to face my pain. He asked if I would be willing to minister to those in hospitals and nursing homes when there was a need. I agreed, knowing that only He could bring about the needed changes and deliver me from the dreams and fears I had—and He did!
My dad and I prepared to visit a friend of his who managed a hotel in another city. Before arriving, my dad’s friend told us he’d had an appendicitis attack and needed an operation. The surgery was scheduled the very day of our arrival.
It was then that I noticed something amazing! The idea of visiting someone at a hospital no longer bothered me. Instead, there I was, looking forward to it. When I went into the hospital, I was no longer bothered by all the smells and sounds I’d previously dreaded. We had an enjoyable visit with our friend. He told us over and over how grateful he was that we were there for him in his time of need.
Hearing the reaction of our friend made me very glad for the transformation the Lord had made in me by taking away my dread of hospitals. Since then, I have visited more hospitals, and the change continues to be evident. In place of the dread they used to fill me with, I feel excitement and satisfaction in being able to minister to and pray for the sick. I haven’t yet visited a nursing home. But I know in my heart that if there was ever a need, God would come through for me.
I am open and aware that this transformation process is something that will continue to happen throughout my life. All I have to do (and this is often easier said than done) is submit to Jesus and allow Him to do “His perfect work.”2 And as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!”3
1 New International Version
2 James 1:4
3 New International Version
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International