Broadway musicals are something I greatly enjoy. There are many songs that grace my digital music playlists. Oftentimes, I listen to the music long before I see the musical, as I have discovered this helps the show have even more meaning. The musical WICKED by Stephen Schwartz, is a show whose music I memorized long before I saw the production. The songs are a mix of playful and quite weighty. The song “For Good” is a creative play on words. One such line in the song goes like this: “...because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” (If you have not listened to the song before or it has been a while since you heard it, I invite you to click on to the YouTube link https://youtu.be/TZ0pXUb5jVU)
The double meaning of “for good” is not lost on me. Some people have a positive impact on me, thus resulting in my being better or good, while others change me for the long term or “for good.” Every relationship, each encounter with another person, is an opportunity for the person to help me on the journey toward becoming the best version of myself. And it works both ways. Ideally, I seek to be the kind of person who brings about good in others, as well. I think that’s why I like the following line of the song. It reminds me of the people who have been in my life, some for a short time, and others for much longer:
“I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason,
Bringing something we must learn, and we are led
to those who help us most to grow,
If we let them and we help them in return…”
As Jesus spent His three years in ministry, He set about changing people “for good.” The preaching, teaching and miracles Jesus did on a mountain, in a boat, on the road, and many other places, were intended to upset the status quo of society. Sometimes the changes happened to those who were healed or were on the receiving end of a miracle. Most of the time, though, the ones changed for the better were in His very own disciples. They were the ones who, in Jesus’ shadow, received some seriously valuable on-the-job training about what following Jesus really meant.
The story of Zacchaeus comes to mind when I think of an individual who was drastically changed “for good” by Jesus. (see Luke 19:1-10) Zacchaeus was despised by his community because he was a very wealthy tax collector. Now, in the First Century Mediterranean culture, tax collectors could assess whatever they wanted people to pay. Zacchaeus was one of the worst at over-charging, and as a result, he lived a life of extravagant wealth.
On the day when Jesus came to town, Zacchaeus wanted to get a look. Being short in stature, Zac climbed a tree to get a better view. Not only could he see Jesus, Jesus could see him. I mean REALLY see Zac. Jesus, knowing full well the kind of man Zac was, insisted on going to his house. While in Zaccheaus’ luxurious home, Jesus exposed him for who he really was, a dishonest , selfish sinner. This interaction with Jesus changed Zac. He decided to turn from his cheating ways, and to make restitution for overcharging for taxes. He even agreed to pay people back four times the amount they overpaid. I think it is safe to say that Zac was changed, “for good.”
Jesus wants to do the same for me. Jesus wants into the house of my heart. He wants to examine all my shortcomings and sins. Jesus wants to change me “for good.” The thing about Jesus is He doesn’t hold a grudge against me. His life, death, and resurrection make it so I don’t have to stress about the poor choices I have made. The negative ways I have treated others have little bearing on me in Christ’s eyes. You see, Jesus loves me “for good,” meaning He will be there for me through thick and thin; through good times and bad; always and forever.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
I am grateful for the investment Jesus has made in me. So too, there are people in my life who have invested in me. Like Jesus for Zacchaeus, I have close friends and family who are willing to call me on my shortcomings and help me to be a better person. Still others come alongside me for a season, make an impact on me, and forever stay “with me, like a handprint on my heart.”
It is the many handprints remaining on my heart that have a lasting impact, “for good,” on my life. It’s difficult when these people stay for such a short time. Yet, by letting go, I know I can continue to grow and thrive because Christ’s handprint is one that is eternal, that has no end.
Who are the people in your life that have changed you “for good,” in whatever way this has come about? How have you changed them? Unconditional love, honesty and compassion go a long way. Take a bit of time to examine your life and see where you can be more intentional with those who are in your circle of love.
Lord of Love, thank You for seeking to change me “for good.” I know that I don’t always honor that gift as I should do. Please forgive me for my shortcomings. Guide to allow You to continue to shape me. Amen.
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