does god actually change people?
By McKenna Takach
May 11, 2020
Passages of the day: Click HERE to read today’s passages.
1 Samuel 10:1-11:15
My deepest spiritual question, the one that has kept me up at night countless times and has both challenged and spooked my faith, is does God actually change people?
As followers of Jesus, we believe that just like Saul in our passage today, we too “will be changed into a different person” when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. And while during Saul’s time, the Spirit of God descended upon God’s elevated few – his judges, his kings, his prophets and priests – we now are all counted among them because of Christ’s work on the cross. But what about those of us who know the power and the mercy and love of God but don’t seem to change? What about those times when it feels like we slip right back into old patterns of thinking and old ways of living? What about those habits and addictions we think we can never shake? Does God actually change people?
When Saul turns away from the prophet Samuel, our author tells us that God changed his heart in that moment. Saul then ends up prophesying with a “procession of prophets” in profound enough ways that those around him question whether Saul too is a prophet. It would seem that he truly was a different person, changed by the presence of God.
Fast forward to what seems like just a moment later and we see the man who was boldly prophesying after being anointed as King, hiding from his people and his position among the supplies. Shirking the responsibility and honor he has been bestowed by God, the man who was changed appears to have forgotten. Had it been pretend?
I find it interesting that God knows the steps of our lives with him are often zig zags and loopty loops rather than straight lines of obedience. And we're not alone! God calls Gideon a mighty warrior and he spends the next three chapters of scripture doubting God. God calls Peter the rock of his church before Peter denied him three times. God has Saul anointed King when Saul would yo-yo between faithfulness and fear throughout his whole Kingship. Lifetimes – even the most heroic ones – are made up of moments. The great paradox of the Christian life is that each and every moment, we live between what will be and what is. God always gives us the choice between the two. That’s what love does: it offers us the choice to be changed over and over again, moment by moment. Never compromising its integrity to itself, Love responds to my question, “does God actually change people?” with another simpler one: “Will you trust me with this moment?”
The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
— Proverbs 15:3
Prayer to start with: Lord, I pray you would help us to trust you with our moments so that when we look back and see them all together, we will have lived whole lives transformed by the power of your Spirit. Give us what we need for now Lord. We give our regrets about the past and our worries about the future to you. Amen