From Desperation to Transformation

“I stopped believing the lies of Satan and started believing the truth of Jesus Christ, and my life has been transformed.”

Stephen ArterburnStephen Afterburn

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”  (Romans 12:2a, NLT)

Years ago, my friend Pastor Chuck called me to ask if I could meet with a young woman who’d been a crack addict and was now suicidal and asking for help. Twenty minutes later, a weak and fragile woman with a very strong vocabulary of four-letter words began spewing her anger and bitterness at me.

She was a model, and photographers provided the drug to add life and action to her photo shoots. She’d recently stopped using crack, but the longer she went without the drug, the deeper into depression she sank. At her darkest moment, she was going to kill herself, but instead she went to Pastor Chuck’s church for help.

We talked for over an hour, and I did not feel very helpful.

As she prepared to walk out, I reached for something that had just arrived in my office the day before. It was a new Bible that helps provide God’s truth for those involved in recovery from alcohol, drugs and other problems that require a growth plan. I hated to part with my copy, but this young woman needed something more than my feeble words to help her be transformed.

I handed her the Bible, opened it to the book of John and said, “I don’t think my words have been too helpful, but I know these words can transform your life. If you would start with the book of John, it can lead you to the life you once had and more.” Those were the best words I could come up with to encourage her to read that Bible and discover the recovery program inside. As she left, I prayed and wondered what would become of this desperate woman.

Six months later, I was back at the same church when a young woman came walking up the center aisle carrying a Bible so tattered it looked like it had gone through a washing machine.

It was the same woman who’d shown up in my office when she was suicidal. She now had a much brighter face and carried her very well-worn copy of the Scriptures. I was stunned and asked, “What happened to you?

She replied, “I stopped believing the lies of Satan and started believing the truth of Jesus Christ, and my life has been transformed.” She told me how she started a ministry helping young women not to make the same mistakes she had made. Her life had truly been transformed by the truths of Jesus Christ. As dramatic as her transformation was, it is available to us all.

We don’t have to be addicted to something or be suicidal to need transformation. The promise of profound transformation is found in Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT).

It sounds so easy and simple. Just change the way you think, and you will not only be transformed, but you’ll also learn to know God’s good and pleasing and perfect will for your life.

However, I’m all too aware that few things are as difficult as changing the way we think. I am stubborn in my resolve to figure everything out myself and tell no one of my struggle. I do anything under my own power to try to make my life better. But transformation comes when we stop trying so hard and completely surrender to the ultimate power greater than ourselves, the Lord God Almighty.

God still longs for us to humble ourselves before Him and fill our minds with His life-transforming truth. And then, He rewards us when we do what it tells us to do, and He reminds us that when we can’t, we need to find support from others to succeed. When we’re willing to do whatever it takes to be transformed, we experience hope for a new life.

Dear Jesus, I want to become my true self — the person You created me to be. Give me discernment to recognize when I have picked up worldly thinking, and help me replace those thoughts with Your thoughts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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