When I think about cultivation and facilitating growth, my mind automatically drifts toward the idea of change. One of my worst subjects in school was chemistry. Although I try to block most of that subject from my memory, I do remember learning about the two different types of “changes” in chemistry; physical and chemical.
PHYSICAL VS CHEMICAL CHANGE
According to dictionary.com, a physical change is “a reversible change in the physical properties of a substance, such as size or shape.” Water, when it freezes into ice, has only changed physically because it can always be melted back into water. Chemical change is the more serious of the two. Once again from the geniuses at dictionary.com, we see that chemical change is “an irreversible chemical reaction involving the rearrangement of the atoms of one or more substances and a change in their chemical properties or composition, resulting in the formation of at least one new substance.” In essence, with a chemical change, there is no turning back. Once the change has been made, you cannot revert to what the substance once was. When you have a bonfire, there is no way to magically turn that pile of ashes back into firewood.
So, what does chemistry have to do with cultivation? When we cultivate a crop, we are helping a chemical change take place. We want to encourage and support growth. We never want our crop to revert back to a seed. When we decide to make a change within ourselves, we never want to go back to the way we were. We are in a sense aiming for a spiritual-chemical change within. See what I did there? We don’t want the effects of the change to be temporary. We want to be “all in” and changed forever. Better yet, we want to be transformed into something new. In Romans 12, Paul speaks to this very issue.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:1-2
CHANGE IS HARD WORK
This passage also includes a promise for those who allow themselves to be transformed. We “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…” The New Living Translation says, “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Personally, I think that’s a pretty good trade. It’s no easy task to submit to transformation or help others with transformation. God’s promises written in his word provide us with comfort, reassurance, and inevitably makes everything worth the effort.