I started this thing a few years back where I give myself one word per month to focus on. It helps make my transformation and walk to look more like Christ, not seem as overwhelming. If I give myself one characteristic/word to pray over every month, it helps fix my eyes on Jesus through a single lens, verses trying to fix all the messiness of my life in one swoop.
This month’s word is “Restoration.” Specifically, restoration of myself, and how I view myself.
In my blog, “Grieve,” I talked about how Scripture commands us to grieve our sin. But at some point, we have to let it go.
We have to grieve our past sins and our messy stories, but we are not called to hold on to those things. We have to grieve, and accept that we are forgiven. We have to grieve, and believe that we are washed clean. We have to grieve, and believe the truth that our past is not our identity or who we are. We have to grieve and then believe that we have been offered grace, and that we are not rejected by the Lord.
The best way to live this out, is to live a different life than the one you lived before.
In Acts 4, Peter and John go to the temple to preach the gospel. They are then arrested because the High Priests want to keep them quiet. But then Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit, and preaches the gospel even more.
Acts 4:13 says:
“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.”
The footnote in my bible explains:
“Knowing that Peter and John were untrained in the Scriptures, the council was amazed at what being with Jesus had done for them. A changed life convinces people of Christ’s power. One of your greatest testimonies is the difference others see in your life and attitudes since you have believed in Christ.”
I have been praying over this truth constantly – that the new life the Lord has given me over the past few months, is my greatest testimony of His power and strength.
However, it’s not always easy. It’s terrifying thinking that the people who know my ugly story and my messy past, might not trust or believe I am a new creation. That they might still be clinging onto who I was, and might be unwilling to get to know who God has changed my heart to be. But I cannot control what they think or how they feel.
I can only walk in my new life, and pray that the grace, forgiveness, and purity the Lord has given to me as a gift, overflows with boldness to all who encounter me.
The very thing I’m afraid of – having my past sins held and used against me as a slander to my name – I did to someone else when I was in college. This friend and I had a very broken relationship on multiple, multiple levels. There were layers and layers of sin, manipulation, brokenness, and an avoidance of healing.
And I held it against him for years. To the point where, after college, when he begged me to view him as the man the Lord was creating and growing him into, rather than seeing him as the boy I knew in college – I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let it go.
We are no longer in each other’s lives, but I wonder what would have happened if I had allowed my eyes to be opened to how the Lord was actually growing and maturing him. Because as a Christian, the Lord does not leave us where we’re at. That is His promise to us. That He will go to the farthest, most distant land, to woo us back to Him. And the Lord was growing this friend, because God is a loving God and prepares the way for those who love Him.
What would have happened if I had stopped viewing this friend through the lens of “Your past sin defines you, and you will always be bound to that identity,” and started to view him through, “You are forgiven, you have been washed clean. You have been offered a clean slate. You have been given grace. You are being made new before our very eyes. And you are beautiful.”
Being a Christian should mean we are surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ who protect us, defend us against slander and gossip, and walk alongside us in the midst of our mess.
Because that’s exactly what Jesus did. He came to the adulterous woman, and protected her.
“Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”
So let us live a life free of trying to fix each other, thinking we know the depths of someone’s heart better than God does, and how to fix them. Let us stop holding the first stone tightly at our side, ready to throw it at a second’s notice. Let us instead, drop it, and go to each other in love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness, and walk alongside each other, as we all try to muddle our way through this messy thing called life.