“What happens when everything you believe in and live by is smashed to bits by circumstances? Sometimes the reversals of what we expect from God come to us as individuals, other times as entire communities. When it happens, does catastrophe work to re-form our lives to conform to who God actually is and not the way we imagined or wished him to be? Does it lead to an abandonment of God? Or, worse, does it trigger a stubborn grasping to the old collapsed system of belief, holding on for dear life to an illusion?” -Eugene Peterson
Asking myself this question today: how do I respond to difficult circumstances? Eugene asks some good questions for me to ponder.
- Do I choose to desire reformation?
- Do I choose to take a spiritual vacation from God?
- Do I choose to harden my heart, stay huddled in a ball and pretend like nothing is terribly wrong or different, making sure everyone else thinks the same?
Reformation is the verb. Definition please?
Reform means beneficial change, more specifically, reversion to a pure original state, to repair, restore or to correct. Reform seeks to improve the system as it stands, never to overthrow it wholesale.
No matter, reforming doesn’t mean to scrap everything. I think of a piece of clay. You might make something and decide you can do better, so you add some water, crumple your work, knead the clay into a ball and start over. Or like an old muscle car. Rust has taken over, there is major wear and tear on the interior. It takes a strip down of the car to restore it to it’s full, magnificent, original beauty. With reformation, you are working with the same material at its basis. Yourself. You can’t change that, you’ve gotta work with what you have.
“Does catastrophe work to re-form our lives to conform to who God actually is and not the way we imagined or wished him to be?” We are reforming so that we may conform.
Conforming is the point where I can either choose to do it, or choose to stay where I am. Conformity is not an electrical engineering magazine (actually it is), but most importantly it is a process by which one’s beliefs or behaviors are influenced by another.
When I think of conformity though, I think more along the lines of forced change. The word ‘conform’ does not have a positive connotation in my mind. The true definition though, does not denote requirement. It’s a process. And I make the decision to conform. I can choose to be influenced by Another either by being in fellowship with [God] or not. That’s where I can choose to make or break myself. It’s a simple yes or no answer.
It all breaks down to a choice. I am beginning to wonder if many times when I feel distant from God or I’m going through a “dry” spell during tough times, it isn’t because I chose it. I chose to take a vacation from meeting with Jesus or I stayed on my couch in the fetal position instead of grow up and move forward. It’s in those times I might need to revert my gaze to heaven.
Will I choose to revert my eyes, reform my ball of clay (or strip down the muscle car), and conform to who God is? Probably not always. But I’ll bet when I do, it will make those times when I’ve been smashed to bits a little bit easier. Try it. I dare you.