I spoke last weekend. In front of 70 women (!) I spoke of how turning just one degree changes everything. One degree converts health into feverish illness. One degree differentiates wayward arrows from bulls eyes. A one degree shift completely alters the trajectory my course, especially over the long haul. One degree is all I need.
Romans 12:1-2 anchored my church retreat weekend:
Transformed by the renewal of your mind. Transformation translates, “repair or renovation.” It implies restoration to a previously glorious state, as if God intended to recover the beauty of what was now torn and broken because of the Fall.
I like to think of it like this: Imagine a broken-down, dusty old violin up for auction. The auctioneer calls out, “Who will start the bidding? $200? Can I get $100?” The silence unnerves the audience until an elderly gentleman ambles across the stage, knowingly lifts the aged instrument, and smirks reservedly at the familiar form. You know what comes next. He beckons notes from that worn and weary violin to astonish all. Original beauty and glory restored, he sits down to watch the instrument’s value now grow to priceless heights.
Five other ladies had already shared their renovation projects, opened their epistles to be known and read by all men (2 Cor 3:2). Cancer ruled the roost. Bi-polar disease, an unexpected death of a family member, and domestic abuse fought for second place. Then there was me.
I was starting to feel inadequate in the major-life-tragedy category when a friend scooted her chair close and whispered, “You’re speaking, right? You better be normal.”
Whew! I could do ‘normal’.
I chatted about my childhood. How my German immigrant father turned Marine Corps Sergeant turned father of two before age 22. How life under his roof was a lot like military camp: white-gloved inspections, quarters bouncing off beds, rules constructed for chores, rules produced for playtime, rules set up for studying, speaking, and sleeping. Do this. Don’t do that. There was a family law for every conceivable situation.
Add to that a father’s penchant for Pabst Blue Ribbon and a mother’s fondness of gin and tonic, and well, you have me: a product of unpredictable, unrestrained law – a captive torn, broken, and in desperate need of repair.
So, who was I against the backdrop of cancer, abuse, and death? Just another sinner in need of a savior. Just like you. Just like God’s people of old. Just call me, “Israel”.
Just like God rescued His people from Egypt’s slavery, God’s rescue plan included the parting of my own Red Sea. Through Christ, He rescued me from law’s condemnation and carried me into the Spirit’s Freedom.
My very life re-presents a very present Truth: Egypt lies in the heart of every man.
Every man that looks to the law for salvation finds only slavery. Every man that seeks approval in the etched stones of Mt. Sinai finds only condemnation. For the letter of the law kills. It’s called the ministry of death for a reason! (Really. I didn’t believe it either. Check out 2 Cor 3:7-9) Only the Spirit, who is the Lord, gives life. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
God’s rescue plan saved me not from one alcoholic law-giver and a life of unmet expectations. My Savior saved me from the Law itself.
And while He may have parted my Red Sea and swallowed up my enemy, I was now faced with the hard work of believing I was free.
Would I walk in freedom or drag the heavy memorials of slavery behind me?
Would I lead others to the Promised Land or would I paint pictures of Egypt, leaving out what it lacked?
Would the Great I AM, the God whose name literally translates into the verb to BE, really free me to BE held, BE come, BE loved, BE still, BE known, or BE transformed?
In short, yes. One degree at a time (2 Cor 3:18).
He pursued me, rescued me, freed me from Egypt through Love. Through Jesus, God held me in my ‘normal’ trials. BE held.
Through Jesus, God rescued me from the law. BE came.
Through Jesus, God stilled my soul. BE still quiets.
Through Jesus, God experienced my suffering. BE knows.
Through Jesus, with unveiled face, I now gaze not upon the letter of the law, but upon the glory of the risen Lord. My sights shifted one degree. And by the Spirit of the Lord, one degree changed everything.
Here, in the glory of the Lord, I now glimpse acceptance instead of condemnation, liberty instead of enslavement, new life instead of death. I’ve turned one degree. And one degree is all I needed to BE transformed.
Q4U: What is keeping you from turning, just one degree?
Might I Pray for Us?
Dearest Heavenly Father,
You are glorious. You are lovely. You rescued me from slavery to the law and set me free in the Spirit. Thank you for calling me, “Israel – God Saves.” For we are Israel. Saved by the grace of God, for the glory of God, as an epistle for all to read. Forgive us for failing to live in that freedom, constantly battling the habits of the mind of a slave. Deliver us from they tyranny of our own minds and give us the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love – wide, and long, and high, and deep.
In His precious Name, Amen.
Notes of Encouragement:
Words of Affirmation:
“God and His Word never change, but He places us in a world that does change. He also created us to consistently change too, one degree at a time.” Won’t you join me at Tracy Chad Steel’s ministry (onedegreeministries.com) for a greater discussion on what it means to be transformed, one degree at a time?