I sat at the table. The paper placard in front of me had my name printed on it to remind people of who I am. For about four terms, I’ve served either as an alternate or a member of a local coordinating board for transportation in our county. I have, in fact, sat through multiple meetings like this one in three different counties in Florida.
While I serve as a citizen advocate on this board, the issues that face us are more complex than I ever imagined when I first started to attending them. Of course, I sat dazed by the acronyms and double speak that swirled around me for the first couple of months; but I assured myself that if I continued to attend, I would gradually begin to understand what was being discussed.
Then I applied to serve as an alternate. After being in that position for about four years, I once again assured myself that I’d soon understand everything there was to know about transportation in our county. When the fog cleared a bit and a position on the board opened, I applied.
Unfortunately, as soon as I was seated on the board, the federal and state legislation changed drastically and I was back to square one. I found myself flipping through the pages sent to me before each meeting wishing I could decifer the complex verbage on which I was supposed to vote. With every new administration, there are new laws and regulations that the local boards are supposed to miraculously comprehend.
Yet, in the past few years, I find myself understanding the discussions that swirl around my head. No longer does the talk whiz over my head, it is now filtered through knowledge and history. In fact, at a recent committee meeting, I found that I became the historian of the group, having served longer than anyone else. My mind recalled facts and figures that surprised me.
At times, citizens are relunctant to become a part of the process because the issues are simply too complex. And that is usually true at the beginning. Even after years, of study and research, administrations and local issues change as well as the laws. Then the learning process begins again…and again…and again.
Isn’t that like our lives, however? As soon as I thought I had my husband all figured out, the Lord would do something different and I would be left scratching my head, wondering why he had changed. Even in my own life, I wake up and find that during the night the Lord supernaturally answered a prayer and transformed my heart. Or I read a book and God begins to speak to me about fears and concerns that have plagued my spirit since childhood, he makes my spirit responsive to his love and the Holy Spirit does a fresh work.
Different from the complex issues that we face with governance, God’s transformations are usually simple changes that transform our behaviors, attitudes and desires. Paul was correct when he wrote to the Romans that laws and regulations cannot make transformational changes. That is God’s job.