I had to laugh when I read the following devotion by Alan Riley. He writes about giving his heart to the Lord at sixteen and the disappointment he felt the next morning when he woke up the same person he’d always been. I remember that feeling.
“I was really bummed to find that I was still me,” Riley writes. “I still looked the same, unfortunately. Physically, I still felt pretty much the same. There weren’t any lightning bolts or voices from heaven (at least that I heard – I know there were angels rejoicing up there, but I didn’t hear it). I remember thinking, ‘Oh, no! It didn’t take! I’m still the same!’”
He goes on to say, “I wished that part of the ‘new creation’ thing had been new looks, new popularity, new gifts and skills. But they weren’t because those things are not what really matters; they’re not really what and who I am. The truth is a lot [had] changed, it just wasn’t as readily apparent as I wanted it to be.”
Then Riley goes on to list the things that changed when he met Christ:
God gave me a new heart. I found it a whole lot easier to be patient and forgiving with people because I was now aware that I had been forgiven.
He gave me new desires. I found myself wanting to spend time with Him in prayer, to study His word, and to hang out with other followers of Jesus.
He gave me a sense of meaning and purpose. As I began walking with Christ and growing in him, I began to realize that He did indeed love me and have a plan for my life. The thing about plans is that they are more apparent after they’ve been realized. Looking back, I clearly see His leadership, guidance and protection over my life since that day.
He gave me a new destination. I was a good kid before I came to know Christ. I never beat anyone up, committed a crime or hung around with hoodlums. But there are lots of good people in hell because they depended on their good works to get them into heaven. After I came to know Him, my eternal destination was heaven.
“When you come to faith in Christ,” Riley concludes, “God makes you new from the inside out, where it really counts. You might look the same, but you are not the same person. All things are new!” *
I love that reminder! So often we get caught up in an unhealthy introspection that focuses on all the things we are not, rather than looking at the ways God has been changing us. We want the “new creation” Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 5:17, but we’ll never recognize the new unless we get around to “forgetting what is behind” (Phil 3:13) so that we might “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil 3:12).
Today, take a moment and thank the Lord for the work He is doing in you. Jot down a few of the things you’ve seen change in your life since you gave your life to the Lord.
We may not yet be what we ought to be, but thank God we’re not what we were! So press on, my friend! Press on.
[* Rev. Alan Riley is an ordained Baptist Minister and a frequent contributor to the Streaming Faith Daily Devotional. His personal blog can be found at www.alansblog.com.]