AHA: True Spiritual Transformation
by Kyle Idleman
The word “Aha” is defined this way: “a sudden understanding, recognition or resolution.” For our purposes it’s “a sudden spiritual understanding, recognition or resolution that brings about lasting transformation.” Instead of self-help we are asking for God’s help.
In some ways AHA can’t be explained, it must be experienced. For that reason it is best understood through stories. AHA is the moment in someone’s life where there is a beautiful collision. At just the right time there is a God moment and their life collides with God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Everything changes in that collision, which is why watching it happen is one of my favorite parts of being a pastor. I love witnessing AHA. I see it most every weekend at the church where I serve. I listen to people as they tell about the spiritual awakening that they have experienced. They were lost and now they are found. They were blind and now they are able to see.
One woman told me about her impulsive eating habits. For her, there was nothing a day could throw at her that she couldn’t eat away. Facing anxiety from an upcoming project, she would preemptively bring home two or three deserts and eat them all in one evening. Despite trying every diet and exercise fad, she reached 325 pounds. This seemingly unstoppable weight gain put her at a point of absolute depression, which only furthered her eating habits. After months of the vicious cycle of depression and binging she realized that, Food is never going to fill the emptiness in my heart. She had been trying to satisfy her soul by feeding her stomach.
When she came to church she heard a message from John chapter 6 where Jesus describes himself as the “Bread of Life.” She suddenly realized in that moment that she had been turning to food to do for her what only Jesus can ultimately do. That was 4 years and 170 pounds ago. But the outward change is really just a byproduct of the inner-transformation she experienced when she started to look to Jesus to fill the emptiness of her heart.
Three Essential Ingredients
So what is AHA? My wife has this cookbook at home, a gift from our wedding. It’s called The Three Ingredient Cookbook. She would want me to tell you that she doesn’t really use it. When she cooks there’s typically more than three ingredients involved. The truth is I am the one who uses The Three Ingredient Cookbook. On the rare occasions I’m allowed in the kitchen this cookbook is my go-to cooking companion, because honestly, three ingredients is about my capacity. One of the things I’ve learned the hard way is that when using the The Three Ingredient Cookbook that all the ingredients are necessary. Apparently when making _______________, _______________ really is necessary. This is the downside to The Three Ingredient Cookbook. You can’t cheat it. If you only go with two, it doesn’t work out very well for you.
The same is true for AHA. I have listened to the AHA experience of hundreds if not thousands of people over the years and I have studied numerous transformation experiences of people in the Bible. With striking consistency, AHA always has three ingredients. If any one of these is missing it will short-circuit the transformation process.
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