Friday, September 13, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Alchemy

A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Be transformed by the renewing of your minds, that you may prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” –Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

The word alchemy denotes a process of transforming something common into something special.

Anciently, the term alchemy was associated with heresies, snake oil sales and fairy tales. 

Alchemists were caricatured as mad scientists who were obsessed with formulas and compounds that could turn base metal into gold.

Many of these unsuccessful alchemists became con artists who found ways to make things look and feel like real gold. They then looked for gullible people to buy their wares. From this era of hucksterism the phrase “all that glitters is not gold” was coined.

But alchemy really is a divine attribute. God is an alchemist and the transformation of human character is His greatest work. Biblically, the creation narrative is a story of divine alchemy. God created everything out of nothing.

The Joseph story and the Moses story are legends about the alchemical effect of vision and perseverance to transform individuals and communities.

Education is alchemy. The ability to read, learn and be taught is how character is formed. An unlearned person may bend toward primal attitudes and fulfillment. A person of refined exposure should develop a more sterling orientation to life.

Romans 12:2 calls for an alchemy of the mind. According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, the alchemy of character is ignited by what we see regularly. Contemporary motivational speakers often say that the difference between us now and five years from now will be found in the quality of the books that we read, screens that we watch and the people who surround us.

Most of us have visions, dreams and ideas of who our best selves would be. Most of us shrink back from the process of becoming that best version of ourselves, perhaps because we do not know the formula.

Ralph Waldo Emerson reduced the formula of personal alchemy to an agricultural ditty. He said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action. Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

The formula for divine alchemy within people is simple: The first element is the catalytic presence of God. Add to that the other elements of vision, exposure, courage, perseverance and the cultivation of good habits. Adversity agitates the mixture. Trials bring the heat that fuses the elements into the mettle of character. 

This is the secret of the alchemy that can transform an undirected life into a legacy of integrity. 

Now that you have the formula for personal alchemy, what will you do with it?

Author Bio: 

Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.

Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Columbia Union College (WAU) in Takoma Park, Maryland.

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees–a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

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