Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)
In less than two months’ time, I will be starting a new chapter in my life — parenthood. With it will come a significant amount of responsibility that will require me to leave some elements of my life in the background, if not eliminate them altogether. Relaxation will become a rare luxury. I will have to spend considerable time caring for and bonding with my child, leaving much less alone time, which has been important to me throughout my life. I will need to keep a careful budget, with little room for the types of hobbies and entertainment I have enjoyed to this point. And in preparation to take pictures of the big event and to maintain close e-mail access, I broke down and purchased a smartphone this weekend. Like it or not, I will have to embrace modern technology even more while trying my best not to get carried away by all its features.
Reimagining life can be an intimidating prospect. Many old habits and routines are not easily broken, and it can be quite a shock when what you have only imagined or theorized becomes reality, and it is not nearly what you thought it would be. Living in the unknown, without the sense of control or at least security, for me, is downright terrifying. Proverbs 3:5, one of my favorite verses, says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (NIV). Often this is much easier said than done.
As I prepare for this new phase in my journey, I find myself reflecting on the promise that we have new life if we are in Christ. But to fully appreciate 2 Corinthians 5:17, we must also consider the verses that follow: All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation… We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NIV). God calls us to Him, just as we are, regardless of whatever mistakes we make or blemishes we possess. If we focus on Christ, we are made right with God, in spite of ourselves.
Encouraging as this is, it has not been an easy premise for me to grasp. I have always been very critical of myself, and I endured some bad experiences in the past with teachers, peers, and managers that I tend to dwell on. I certainly have moments when I am open to and actively seeking God, sometimes with praise, sometimes in my own pain; but I am also often overtaken by the negatives that became part of my nature because they have resided within me for so long. Accepting reconciliation to God means letting go of the old nature and allowing Christ to overcome it. This has been a constant, difficult struggle for me, but now I am driven all the more to persevere, to be a good example for my child.
The gift of new life carries responsibility. Paul warns us, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1 NIV). We must leave certain old ways behind if we are to take up our cross daily — it is a key way we deny ourselves. We will inevitably stumble at many points along our various paths, but the key is not to allow ourselves to be overtaken. God’s grace forgives our errors and gives us light in the face of harsh truth. But in order to experience Him more deeply than just passing glances, we must refuse to dwell in the dark places, and accept, learn, and move forward.
Many times, I have prayed this simple prayer: “Lord, save me from myself.” Now this has even deeper meaning, as I seek to finally break away from my past nature. I want my child to know the man I have become in Christ.
Daniel can be reached by email here.