WORDS FROM W.W. April 26, 2013
Once in a great while I get out my high school yearbook from the early seventies. It is a mixture of comical relief and embarrassment…even more embarrassing if there is someone looking at it with me! Comments get made such as “You looked like…THAT?” and “You wore THOSE kind of glasses?” the comments are never made in flattering ways that result in me pumping up my chest, but rather they are asked with a chuckling undertone.
It is easy to see how I have changed from a distance of forty years. Different glass frames (Thank God!), puffier cheeks, thinner hair. Distance sometimes makes things frightfully clear.
The reverse of that is trying to discern changes on a day-to-day basis. Unless a person goes through a “make-over”, how different someone is on Monday compared to Sunday, or even the previous Monday, is hard to know.
There are similar criteria involved in discerning a person’s spiritual transformation. I have a hard time knowing how I have grown in my walk with the Lord from my perspective. It may not even be as clear as a slowly receding hairline or expanding waist.
What I need are others who are in the midst of faith journeys to tell me what they are sensing. Sometimes those external views involve hard things to hear, such as sensing I’m in the midst of a spiritual dryness, or the identifying of an evident fear to go to a deeper level of trust. And sometimes those observations are encouraging and energizing comments that leave me asking “Really? You see how I’ve grown?”
The past few years I’ve attended a basketball official’s camp at some time during the summer. We don’t stand around a campfire singing “Kum-Ba-Yah” at this camp, or dance around the dining hall chanting “We are the Order of the Forks!”. At this camp we officiate basketball games while being watched by clinicians. As we go about managing the game on the court the clinicians take note and then share their observations with us during time-outs, half-time, and at the end of the game. They note good things we did- good calls, good communication- and bad things we do- lame calls, slow rotations in covering the court. Often during the three days together the clinicians will keep telling someone about a tendency that is being observed that needs to be corrected, and the official is able to correct that flaw by the end of the camp.
One of the instructions at the beginning of camp is to not use two words.
“Yes, but” is resistance to the truth. It’s a bolted door closed to reality.
Likewise, spiritual transformation needs those external eyes, trusted others to guide us and instruct us.
When I want a humorous moment I open my yearbook. When I want the close truth of the present reality I go to those I know love me, want the best for me, and want me to be all that God intended for me to be.