I am a new creature in Christ...
II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
August 4, 2010
Freed to Start Anew
Friend To Friend
“Laura lived in a small town with parents who were morally sound and family oriented. She went to church from her earliest remembrance and was baptized when she was twelve-years-old. In high school, she began dating Barry. After Laura went off to college both of Barry's parents died. He was lonely and missed the close-knit family he had once enjoyed.
“After Laura's first year of college, Barry began talking marriage. He had not gone to college and wanted her to come home and be his wife. Laura was torn, but made the decision to marry Barry and continue working toward her degree.
“Laura and I held hands and prayed together before she walked down the aisle. It was a beautiful day as I stood with her and the two were united as man and wife. However, after the wedding comes the marriage - something that neither the nineteen-year-old Laura nor Barry were prepared to face.
After five years, Laura was bored with the marriage, restless in her job, and disappointed in her husband. While working in a medical office, Bob, a salesman for an international medical supply company, took on their account. Bob was older and lived what seemed like an exciting lifestyle. It started as friendly bantering, which progressed to enticing flirtation. Laura found herself looking forward to Thursdays - the day the rep made his weekly visits.
“A touch here, a lunch there, and soon an affair ensued. Laura packed her bags, left her marriage, her job, and her hometown to move to greener pastures. But the greener pastures weren't so green. Thorns infested the relationship. Bob wasn't interested in anything long term. Laura was just a young plaything he toyed with on weekends. What promised to be an exciting life away from small town America, away from a mundane, monotonous marriage, turned into a deep, dark pit of regret and remorse. Laura discovered Bob wasn't anything special. He was just someone different - a diversion. And she was his flavor of the month.
“After her divorce was final, Laura was left all alone in a strange town. What have I done? She cried.
“Laura's husband remarried and put the broken pieces of his life back together. Laura, on the other hand, was just broken.
“Laura turned away from our friendship when she headed down the road to self-destruction, but after she came to her senses, she called me - full of remorse and sadness. I welcomed her in my arms, held her close to my heart, and brought her to my hometown. My husband and I found her a job, helped her get her finances in order, and directed her to a great Bible-based church. That's what it looked like on the outside, but here's what really happened.
“Laura, in her own words would tell you that she stood before Jesus like the woman caught in adultery. She felt the stares of her accusers and recoiled at the rocks that would surely fly. In her own mind, she stood naked and ashamed before her community, her childhood church body, and her lifelong friends. But more importantly, she stood in shame before Jesus.
"’I didn't think God would forgive me,’ she began. ‘I had hurt my family, my husband, and my witness. What would God want with someone like me?’
"’Laura,’ I began, ‘we are all sinners. We are all saved by grace. None of us deserve it. That's what makes grace, grace. You made a terrible mistake, but so did the woman caught in adultery that the Pharisees brought to Jesus. What did Jesus do with that woman? What did He say?’
"’He told her to go and sin no more.’
“’Exactly. He told her to leave her life of sin. That doesn't mean that she never sinned again. But we can safely believe that she left this lifestyle, this sinful relationship, and began a new life. That is what Jesus will do for you. That is what He does for all of us.’
“God promises: ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9). Another translation uses the words "cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (NASB). I love the picture of God washing away all our sins, erasing the list of offenses, throwing our sins into the deepest of seas - all gone.
“Laura did begin again. She repented of her sin, immersed herself in Bible study and ministry, and began a new life totally committed to the One who forgave her and set her free from condemnation. And that my friend, is what Jesus does for each and every one of us who come to Him with a repentant heart ready to start anew.
“After Laura began her new life, she followed hard after God. She was so grateful for a chance to start again, and she gave her life to serving and honoring Jesus.
“Sometime during her fifth year at her new church, she met a wonderful Christian man, Peter. After they were married, Laura and Peter committed their lives to serving God wherever He led. After a missions trip to Eastern Europe, they both felt God calling them to return on a more permanent basis. Now, for over ten years, Laura and Peter have been serving God in Eastern Europe, planting churches and loving people to Christ. She has agreed with Paul when he wrote, ‘This one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead’ (Philippians 3:13). But friend, it is a choice.
“See, God doesn't just set us free from our past. He sets us free to an exciting future. And Jesus showcased the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8 and my friend, Laura, to show us how.
“Let's Pray - Dear God, thank You for being a God who allows u-turns. Not only do You forgive me of my sin, You allow me to start anew. In Jesus' Name - Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
“Did you know that God allows u-turns in your own life?
“Is there an area that you need to make a u-turn and head back toward God?
“Are you ready to repent of your sin, accept God's forgiveness, and begin a new life filled with purpose? If so, it is only a prayer away.”
Change IS a choice – God does the work of setting us free from our pasts and giving us a new identity – but we have to CHOOSE to live in that new reality. That’s hard – especially if we’ve lived a life where we did whatever we had to do to survive. Habits are deeply ingrained – and it’s so easy to go back to what once “worked” for us. But GOD wants us to be different – to live the truth of our new identity in Christ. That means we have to keep our eyes open to things in our life that we are not consciously aware of – if we ask God to show us, He will – and He’ll give us the strength and willpower to change – but we have to be willing to take those first few steps – no matter how uncomfortable they are. If you know that you’re still living like that old “dead man” – make the u-turn God offers and ask God again for a fresh start – and He’ll give it to you! Keep moving forward – and eventually you’ll be able to look back and see just how far you’ve come! Sharon