LET'S GET REAL ABOUT PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION
This month we have gotten real! We have gotten real . . . .
* About the idea of life lessons;
* About relationships
And today, we are going to bring this theme to a close by getting real about what personal transformation actually takes.
There is a beautiful passage in 2 Corinthians that says: "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!."a
"The old has passed away, behold, the new has come." That's a profound idea, isn't it? Sounds very spiritual, doesn't it? But you know what that means? Actually, really means? It means things will change.
You may be sitting there thinking, transformation is what I want -- but I'll pass on the change portion, thank you, very much! No, I don't like change at all. I prefer to stay right where I am-in my little comfort zone.
Or you may even say, things are not going so fine, but at least I know what to expect, so let's just leave well enough alone.
Well, I'm afraid life just doesn't work like that because whether we INITIATE change or not, whether we WANT change or not, whether we LIKE change or not!, Life is ever-creating, ever moving forward, and ever presenting us with opportunities for personal transformation and growth, which require change. If you recall, I warned you on the first Sunday of this month that we would dig deeper into this. Well here we are!
So, our theme about which we will get real this morning can be summed up in a phrase you have probably heard before. In fact, I'm sure you've said it before, but do you realize what it actually means?! Here it is: Change is inevitable; growth is optional!
So I want us to look at two things this morning:
* The inevitability of change and
* The growth that come from it IF we allow it!
1. CHANGE IS INEVITABLE
First . . . Change is inevitable.
There is another, similar saying about change, which I'm sure you've heard also: The only thing certain in life is change.
Change IS going to occur in our lives-change we initiate and change we THINK we don't-change we label "good" and change we label "bad."
Some of us embrace the "good" changes or changes we consciously initiate ourselves; while others of us fear any change, whether it was self-initiated or whether we view it as good.
And, I'd venture to say that we all have some fear and trepidation over change we don't initiate or change brought on because of a crisis.
What I want to do this morning is get real about this personal transformation business by laying a foundation for MOVING THROUGH change-any kind of change; whatever the type or magnitude. Whether it be:
* loosing a job or starting a new one;
* getting divorced or getting married;
* being forced to move because of a change in life situation or moving into your dream home; OR
* having someone you love make their transition or having a baby.
Whatever the change is that you face, I want you to know that there is a foundation upon which you can stand.
So, I want to modify that saying I gave you just a minute ago: The only thing certain in life is change. Let's instead say, The only two things certain in life are [NOT death and taxes!] change-and God. And God is Changeless!
Ernest Holmes affirms this concept for us many, many times in many of his writings. Let me share with you a particularly powerful one from A New Design for Living: "We are all living in a world of continual change, a world in which thought, things, and experiences are all in a constant state of flux. It is the very nature of the universe that there should be continual change and variation. It is a living world, the creation of a living creative Intelligence, not a static world. But behind that which changes, behind that which causes the change, we have found that there is something stable and changeless. Something eternal upon which all of the external events depend for their very existence. Behind the endless process of change and the infinite variety of experience and expression there is That which does not change."b
That last line is so powerful, let's hear it again: "Behind the endless process of change and the infinite variety of experience and expression there is That which does not change." God is the changeless in the everchanging.
So, yes, change is inevitable, but behind it there is a solid foundation, which can lead us to the second part of our theme phrase this morning: Change is inevitable, BUT . . .
2. GROWTH IS OPTIONAL
2. Growth is Optional
Listen to what Jesus said about a solid foundation: "Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation. And when the flood arose, the stream beat violently against that house, and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great. But he who hears my words and follows them is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock against which the stream beat violently; but could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock."c
And what did he mean by "hears my words and follows them?" Jesus told us over and over again:
*To live a spiritual life.
*To trust in God as our sole support.
*To seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all the rest shall be added unto us.
In other words, to keep our spiritual vision clear. That is how we will build a foundation on rock which will weather the storm of any change whatsoever in our lives and which will allow us to GROW through the change.
I believe that every change that comes into our lives can carry us forward IF we will let it.
Every change has within it the possibility of good IF we will embrace it.
And, change will never carry us backward IF we can keep our spiritual vision clear.
Notice those "if's"? Let me go over them again - just in case you missed them.
Every change that comes into your life can carry you forward IF you will let it.
Every change has within it the possibility of good IF you will embrace it.
And change will never carry you backward IF you can keep your spiritual vision clear.
Holmes in The Science of Mind, wrote: "Nature will not let us stay in any one place too long. She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancement of the soul. This is a wise provision, for should we stay here too long, we would become too set, too rigid, too inflexible. Nature demands the change in order that we may advance. When the change comes, we should welcome it with a smile on the lips and a song in the heart."d
And let us remember in any change, whatever the magnitude of it is, when one door is shut, another opens. When a door closes and locks shut, we have an opportunity, with the Spirit of God within us, to find an open door. There always is one. When we have the patience, faith, and love to look for the open door, we will always find it - and that is where personal transformation occurs.
Helen Keller once said: "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but so often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which is opened before us."e
And I love this add-on by NT Minister Rev. Noel McGinnis: "Yeah, yeah, I know that when one door closes another opens, but that hallway is a real son of a gun!"f
So remember, Ernest Holmes' words: "When the change comes, we should welcome it with a smile on the lips and a song in the heart."
Your growth comes when you do not allow change in your life to become a closed door that bars your path to progress. Know that every change is leading you to something greater.
So, here's an affirmation for you to use when you face change: "I know that only good can come of this."
Say that with me, please. "I know that only good can come of this."
Now, so that this isn't just an exercise of words -- I want you to think for a moment of something occurring in your life right now. A change that has just occurred, a change that is on the horizon, a change that you fear might happen -- something real for you right now. Everybody have something. Now, say to this situation: "I know that only good can come of this!"
Or if you need something a bit stronger, you can use Emma Curtis Hopkins' affirmation we've used here before:
This too is God -- This too is Good.
This too is for me -- And I demand to see the blessing in it!g
"Before they call, I will answer,"h we are told in the Bible. We need simply to lift our awareness to the level of God's answer.
In Victor Hugo's novel Les Miserables, the Nuns of the Convent of Perpetual Adoration were reminded of the holy life every half hour by the ringing of the bell. It didn't matter where they were or what they were doing at the moment, each stopped and said a prayer.
As you can imagine, whatever frame of mind a sister happened to be in, she was turned by the sound of the bell to that quiet place within, and she immediately became poised and serene.
What if we saw changes in our lives like the bells in that convent? Reminders to pause and realize just where we are and who we are and to reestablish our connection with our unchanging spiritual reality and the infinite good that is ever available?
So this morning I urge you not to resist change in whatever form it may come, but instead to give thanks for it as a chance to grow and progress.
I urge you not to be afraid of change, but rather to be ready to make each change a step forward to a new understanding of success, happiness and joy of living -- and we can do this because we know that we are supported in the change by That which NEVER changes.
And as you move through any change in your life, get real by remembering these words of Dr. Holmes in Practical Application of Science of Mind: "There are going to be changes in our lives from hour to hour and day to day, and we cannot escape them. It is the nature of the Universe. Let us accept change, make the most of it, and capitalize on it. The action of the Law never changes, but the direction of the action is always up to us. Life can become a glorious adventure, increasingly filled with more of every good thing as we gradually or suddenly come to change our pattern of thinking so that it embraces more of those good things."i
a2 Corinthians 5:17
bErnest Holmes A New Design for Living, p. 50
dErnest Holmes The Science of Mind, p. 385
fRev. Noel McGinnis
gEmma Curtis Hopkins
iDr. Holmes Practical Application of Science of Mind, p. 22