The Power of Transformation
‘Time in the Word’ By Clayton Adams
Transformation, according to one dictionary is a “thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.”
Currently, I am reading the stories of three individuals who experienced transformation in different ways. Each person was transformed and the proof of their transformation was witnessed in their lives. The first person transformed is documented in the book titled ‘Life in the Leatherwoods’ by John Quincy Wolf (1974) and chronicles his childhood and coming of age in the backwoods (Leatherwoods) of Arkansas in the late 1800’s.
The second is ‘Barracoon, The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”’ by Zora Neale Hurston (2018) but written between 1927-1931. It is the story of “Cudjo Lewis, a survivor of the Clotilda, the last slave ship known to have made the transatlantic journey.”
The third is ‘Unexampled Courage’ by Richard Gergel (2019) and details the severe beating and blinding of SGT. Isaac Woodard, a World War II battlefield decorated African American soldier who was severely beaten and permanently blinded by the Chief of police in Batesburg, South Carolina in February of 1946.
What do all three individuals have in common? Transformation. Each of the three individuals had difficult lives. It was through these difficulties that each one was transformed. Simply said, to be human is to live with pain. Physical, emotional or mental pain can be the genesis of a transformation in a person, family or nation.
To be human is to live with pain, at one level or another. What is more, life presents many situations and circumstances completely unfair and contemptable and we live our lives having learned to live with pain, regrets, unforgiveness and disappointments. Examining the lives of others can help us learn to live with pain in our lives but more importantly, we can be transformed.
If others overcame and were transformed, we can be transformed.
John Quincy Wolf was influenced by a teacher that sparked an interest in words and telling stories. Losing both parents and living an extremely meager life, John went on to write for several newspapers and stories for magazines. He died in 1949 and his son used the scrapes of notes and early writings to write the book. The son assembled and arranged the words of his father into a book. It is an insight into the dire circumstances and scarcity of life immediately after the Civil War but overcoming the lack of food, clothes and the death of his parents, John was transformed but never without hope. Cudjo Lewis, (his African name was Oluale Kossola), was photographed outside his home 1928 in a suit but barefoot for he said, “I want to look lak I in Affica, ‘cause dat where I want to be.” Proud of his heritage and skillful in the telling of his life prior to and after slavery. He was a humble man who carved out a living in a strange land with stranger customs than he was raised in. Cudjo was the last living man who came to America on the last slave ship that slipped into the Bay of Mobile, Alabama in 1859. His life forever changed by other Africans who sold him to slave traders and by the cruel, unjust and inhumane system of slavery. His story is amazing and Zora Neale Hurston, a treasured American author captured his life and personhood for our benefit. Cudjo’s transformation is an amazing story. SGT. Isaac Woodard, while wearing his U.S.
Army uniform, was so badly beaten that he lost his vision. He was changed forever and his story largely went untold until now.
Author and judge, Richard Gerga details the account of SGT. Woodard’s beating. At the trial of the police chief who beat SGT. Woodard, the verdict was rendered “not guilty.”
This unjust and wrong verdict transformed the presiding judge.
Because of Sgt.
Woodard’s beating and blinding, judge J. Waties Waring was transformed and because Judge Waring was transformed, President Truman was transformed. Because President Truman was transformed, so America was transformed. As a direct result of SGT.
Woodard’s case, President Harry S. Truman integrated the military of the United States and this transformed America for the better and forever.
The Holy Bible contains the accounts of the transformation of many people. The Bible is the story of God’s power in the form of unending grace, mercy, forgiveness and love that transforms people.
A child who shepherd sheep was transformed into the first king of Israel.
A young virgin teenage girl was transformed into the human mother of Jesus.
Saul was transformed into the apostle Paul.
An uneducated fisherman was transformed into the apostle Peter.
A fearful man was transformed into a “mighty man of valor” known as Gideon.
The transformations found in the Bible are examples of what God can do for you. God specializes in transforming people. This is the power of God, His Word and His Holy Spirit. He has the power to transform the old, young, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, whatever the hue, language or preference, God transforms all. Perhaps the greatest power to transform someone is love. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). But there is more, “For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17). Love overwhelms a person but forgiveness transforms a person.
Love and forgiveness are two powers of transformation. God loves us unconditionally, and though we are sinners and corrupt, God still loves us (Romans 5:8).
Jesus proved His love and forgiveness by dying on the Cross and then resurrecting Himself from the grave.
Another power that transforms people is grace. Grace is receiving something that is undeserved. I like it when I receive grace from people. Grace from the officer who didn’t write a ticket even though I deserved one.
Grace from the bill collector, grace from someone who holds the door for me, grace from one in a position of power.
Grace from God, there is no grace greater than God’s grace. As I receive grace, it propels me to offer grace to others.
Love, forgiveness and grace transform lives.
If we want the lives of others around us to be transformed, we must offer love, forgiveness mercy and grace to them. Love, forgiveness, mercy and grace are blessings from God and they are the power of God that continues to transform people. Have you been transformed by God’s power?
Clayton Adams has a message of faith he would like to share
with the community. He would also like to hear from you. E-mail him at [email protected]