Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10
Sometimes I feel like a change. I think about growing a beard in hopes of looking more intellectual, or maybe a mustache to appear more distinguished, or possibly the purchase of glasses to present a more serious image. No doubt the tried and true clean, short haircut look carries its message of stability. But then stability can easily slip into boredom. Occasionally I get tired of looking at the same unchanging face and feel like making a change.
Once in high school I decided to change my image with a new hairstyle. Flattops were “in”, and I certainly wanted to be in the “in” crowd, so I got a flattop. I think it would have looked okay if it had actually stood up, but my hair was too soft, so it just lay there. Butch Wax helped on a temporary basis, but whenever I went out into the Florida sun it melted, leaving my hair limp and a waxy sweat running down my neck. There was also another problem. Since flattops are longer in the front and close cut at the back of the head, my bald spot kept getting sunburned. Once it got so sunburned it peeled. It was a long, long time before I got another hair cut.
When I went away to college, I was in another change mood and changed my name. I think I might have grown a mustache or beard then, but I couldn’t, so they were easily ruled out. So were glasses as they were too expensive, especially if you don’t need them; and hats made my ears stick out. So I changed my name to Brad. It was solid, distinctive, and had a good ring to it. Besides, it looked good on, “Hi, I’m…” name tags. And every beginning college freshman needs to consider those things. So, I entered Atlantic Christian College as Brad Coleman.
I was doing pretty well with the name change except for some minor problems. Not being used to hearing the name, three different people accused me of snubbing them during the first week of classes because I didn’t respond when they called to me as I walked across campus. And, not being used to signing the name, I frequently forgot and signed the compulsory chapel registration and class attendance roster with the wrong name and was counted absent. After the first week, two classes reported me to the school registrar as not having shown up. The second week I went back to my old name. Even though the name reversal confused others, at last I knew who I was and when I was being called.
Occasional changes still appeal to me; they’re a necessary combatant against boredom and stagnancy. But external changes, though quick and easy, seldom lead to internal renewal. For beneath our physical, thin veneer we are very resistant to change, and true change comes slow and hard. True change begins on the inside deep in the heart or soul, or with a "renewal of the mind" (Ephesians 4:23) and works its way out. True change is not a physical, but a spiritual quest.
Prayer: I think of changing my life Lord, and then I change my mind; it is too easy to stay the same. Lord, I pray for wisdom to see what you see in me and the courage to live your vision. Amen.