Changed to What?

Donald Trump raised the question. Can a person change?

Trump defined Dr. Ben Carson as “pathological.” And the only way anyone who did the things Carson did as a boy or early teen could be different would be to “stay on his medication.” Dr. Ben Carson has spoken widely about his story of redemption. Fifty years of exhibited change is convincing to me.

Mr. Trump has told us—I paraphrase—that he has never felt a need to ask for forgiveness. Now he vehemently denies the power of change or redemption. My take-away from an interview: Trump infers that how we come into this world is our destiny. Cast in stone. No possibility of change outside the realm of drugs—chemistry. That is a dangerous assumption especially for those who see themselves beyond the need for grace or change.

I’ve been thinking about the possibility or impossibility of change all week otherwise I would have thrown Mr. Trump’s statement onto the pile of his outrageous statements. I would have assumed he was really running for Pope—the infallible being. Except—I’ve been thinking about Saul.

Talk about candidates! Saul was prime. He was the package. Head and shoulders above the crowd, most handsome in the country, raised in a wealthy family, had the right connections. The prophet Samuel privately anointed Saul to be king before the people voted. It seemed that even God had voted in the poll that put Saul at the top.

It did not go well for Saul. His 42 year tenure as Israel’s first king was overshadowed by the dark clouds that accompanied him through his entire life. He apparently didn’t stay on his meds. But the outcome contradicts the anointing and inauguration speeches and prophesies. At the outset, there is a prophecy.

“…the Spirit of the LORD will come powerfully upon you and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. After these signs take place, do what must be done…” (1 Samuel 10:6).

The prophesy was that Saul would be restored to the person God intended him to be. The promise was not a “different” person, but different than what he had become. He was hijacked from God’s intention. Saul missed it. He continued to be extremely shy. (On inauguration day, they found him in the storage room hiding under the piles of stuff.) Saul was bi-polar with a problem of paranoia and a jealous commitment to kill David. What happened to the “different person?”

This story distresses me. Not just as an academic pursuit, but at a feeling level. My soul hurts and distresses. What went wrong? Saul’s story comes to mind as I pray for friends in psyche wards, in jails, fighting addictions and living in bondage.

I’m attracted to Irving Stone’s book title—“Men To Match My Mountains” which is the story of the men and women who “won” America’s far west. Stone says, “Biography is not always a sweet tune, even when played by master musicians.”

Saul looks to be “the man.” Did God set him up to fail? Was Saul a place-holder until David was properly groomed as God’s real first choice? Was Saul doomed regardless of his anointing, good looks and marketability? Most confusing is the prophesy.

think sociologically while sitting in a psychological arm-chair as a Kingdom resident. What could or should have Saul done to fulfill the prophesy? The answer informs how to be helpful to my friends needing freedom. If God’s intent is that individuals and nations be changed by the impact of the Holy Spirit, in what environment and setting does the Holy Spirit work most effectively?

Perhaps, Samuel was listing for Saul not just one-time life changers, but the pattern he must follow the rest of his life to maintain the change and the new. With Samuel 10:6 as a guide:

  1. Go where the Holy Spirit is working.
  2. The importance of music. Prophesying in this story is music-oriented.
  3. Join with the ministries your soul resonates with.
  4. Participate in the ministry and the music. Spectators are usually disappointed.
  5. The participation will lead to the work you are to do. Ministry that brings invigorating positive change.

God changes us through the power and work of the Holy Spirit. We cooperate with the on-going change as we determine what we are to be changed into. This demands conversation. The minstrel band coming down the hill from worship holds great promise. Who are they? Where are they? How do you fit in the group?

©2015 D. Dean Benton— (website open during reconstruction)

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