I always get picked. Whenever we go to the Renaissance Festival or any stage show that involves audience participation, there must be a sign over my head that says “Pick This One.” With horror I watch the performer’s smile grow as his/her finger points my way, and I try to duck, but it never works. The next thing I know, I’m up on stage as “Sister Helena Handbasket” or – worse yet – “The Church Lady.”
I cringe most recalling Old Tucson, the gray medicine wagon, and “Professor Magillicutty’s Astounding Transfiction Show. “ That’s where I became and confronted “The Church Lady.” I still cringe because I felt so incredibly uncomfortable, far beyond the normal and expected embarrassment at being the object of poked fun. Embarrassment I could have handled. Conviction was another story. Why was I squirming inside? It was that word: TransFiction.
There I was, chosen and branded probably because I looked inoffensive, good-natured, a bit gullible and easily embarrass-able: The Church Lady. I looked sweet on the outside, but that was fiction. My watching family knew all too well who I was inside, and the truth was that the inside didn’t always match the appearance, tambourine or not. I don’t remember specifically, but I’d probably just let a loved one have it with both barrels of my quick wit and my righteousness before the professor’s assistant singled me out of the crowd. Tambourine rattling in my hand, in my head I heard clearly, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1Cor. 13:1
For me to stop sweating when I’m the local comedic color, for my inside to match my outside and TransFiction to become true transformation, I know need not a miracle elixir like Professor Magillicutty’s snake oil (advertised in the sign on his wagon in the photo above to “Restore Your Love, Generate Good Health, and Improve Your Mental Processes), but something truly effective. I need the mind of Christ. And I realize to have the mind of Christ, I need to have the heart of Christ Jesus. In my heart is where fiction becomes conformation, and conformation to Jesus’ heart brings transformation.
In her book Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer says “We would make tremendous progress simply by learning how to discern life and death.” (P. 162) Oh, THAT’S easy! Sometimes the poison flies out of my mouth disguised as correction before I realize I’m spitting destruction (and yes, sometimes I’ve thought about it). Would that I COULD discern life and death before I let fly!
Astoundingly, though, you and I have hope and assurance that we can, and that we can be transformed from “Church Ladies” (or Men) to disciples. God promises:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you . . . . Ezekiel 36:26-27
But Christ has blessed you with the Holy Spirit. Now the Spirit stays in you . . . . The Spirit is truthful and teaches you everything. So stay one in your heart with Christ, just as the Spirit has taught you to do. 1 John 2:27 (CEV)
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6
God’s Spirit in us is the difference between death and life, Church Lady and disciple; I want to be a disciple.
“A disciple, or apprentice, is simply someone who has decided to be with another person, under appropriate conditions, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become what that person is. . . I am not necessarily learning to do everything he (Jesus) did, but I am learning how to do everything I do in the manner that he did all that he did. Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 282-283
Apprentices learn techniques, but being Jesus’ apprentice/disciple isn’t about learning technique, or about swallowing a magic elixir – it’s about having his heart and learning to love with his love. In my prayer time over the past year as I’ve asked Jesus to show me what’s on his heart for people in my life, and as I’ve focused on personal repentance to get ready for Reign Down USA this past April, Jesus has done and is doing a work of real transformation in me. Love is coming to life in my heart in places I feared were beyond love’s resurrection. I’m even catching hurtful words in the thought stage and taking those thoughts captive to make them obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
Gosh, what a relief – no, what a victory – to know that what I think doesn’t HAVE to come out of my mouth and wound others’ spirits! No more Church Lady! The sign on Professor Magillicutty’s medicine wagon can become truth, not fiction, for all of us. With his own Spirit and his “heart of flesh,” Jesus will restore our love, generate good health, and as a special bonus, even improve our mental processes!
Here’s a “BUT” for you to move today, and room for you to ask Jesus to reveal another “BUT” to you:
God, I know sometimes and in some places and relationships my “Christ-likeness” has been fiction, not truth, BUT I know and believe you can and will transform me because your word promises that you will take away heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh, Jesus very own heart, and put your Spirit in me. I give you freedom to show me where I need to repent and whom I need to love with your love. Thank you that from today forward I will not live a life of “Astounding TransFiction,” but real transformation! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Your own BUT: