SAUL OF TARSUS. At the beginning of the story, he was a man who haunted early Christians through fear and merciless persecution. By the end of the story, he was a passionate follower of Christ who preached what true faith meant to men and women across the globe.
Esther. At the beginning of the story she was a Jewish orphan of no importance living with her uncle. By the end of the story, she was one of the most influential queens of all time, winning the favor of King Xerxes and saving her people from mass genocide.
The Bible is filled with story after story of those who transformed into men and women that they never should have been. Victims and even villains who were nothing but a speck within the grand scheme of things were redeemed by grace into warriors and heroes. They were able to look back on their history and see exactly what their Creator had done for them as well as what He had accomplished through them.
When we are children of God, we too have the privilege of seeing what kind of empty shell we’ve left behind. Day by day we get to see a transformation happening before our very eyes! It may not occur as fast as you would like it too, but the more you give in to the Master’s wonderfully odd design, the more progress you will see on a regular basis.
Our God is a God of restoration. He doesn’t just pick us up from our filthy state, wish us luck, and move on down the road. He gives us a new set of clothes, wipes the mud off of our faces, and provides everything required for the journey. He knows exactly what we need as individuals. Those who are crawling, He teaches to walk; and those who are walking, He teaches to run. Christ wants us to come out better than we were when we went in. He wants to refine our impurities into spotless gold.
It’s healthy for a Christian to wake up every once and awhile and get excited that they are not the same mess they were before they found Jesus. It doesn’t matter if you became saved sixty years ago or sixty minutes ago; you are not the same, and what’s more, you have a responsibility to keep progressing. The truly thankful Christian is an inspired Christian. One who takes advantage of every day that he or she has been set free from bondage.
I personally know how hard it is to pause and reflect. In our busy world, it’s never been easier to write off the things our Savior has done for us as just everyday occurrences. But thankfulness is a discipline. It’s something that initially we may have to force ourselves to do. However, if you are consistent, it will become something you do without even thinking about it.
Do yourself a favor and stop. Right now. Just stop. Think about it. Who were you? Who are you now? And what are you going to do about it?
Comparing your old self to your current self doesn’t mean wallowing in self-pity or taking a drive down guilt-trip lane. It doesn’t mean rolling in a ball and curling up if you don’t see much progress. There is a difference between recognition and regret.
My challenge for you as well as myself as we dash off into this crazy new year is this: Do whatever you can to widen the distance between you and your older self. And when the gap increases, pause and thank the One who’s enabling you to accomplish this.
Pretty soon you will find that the comparison is actually beyond compare.