Friday, February 21, 2014

I'm Not Who I Used to Be

It's true. I am not who I used to be -- neither are you!  

Have you read the science reports that say our body cells die off and are replaced every seven years or so?  Our cells cannot live forever, and eventually they die off and are replaced by new ones.  This is a staggered process because certain cells have a longer life span than others, but to summarize the thought, we are in a sense renewed every few years. That is very intriguing to me.  

But let me take that a step further.  In recent weeks I've been studying the Old Testament judge, Gideon, with a group of church gals. (See Judges chapters 6, 7 and 8) If you aren't current on who he is, allow me to jog your memory.  

Gideon was of the children of Israel, of the tribe of Manasseh.  His family was of the least of his tribe and he was the youngest in his father's house.  Put another way, Gideon thought little of himself, was not a part of the "in crowd," and certainly was not a trend-setter by nature. If he wasn't small in body, he still thought little of himself.

With that in mind, it was surprising when the angel of the LORD came to him with an assignment to be a valiant warrior against the Midianites, an unholy tribe of people who had been pestering Israel relentlessly for many years. The bullying had become so bad that the sons of Israel (that's Bible-talk for God's chosen people) were living in caves to escape the pillaging and destruction brought on by the enemy.

After seven years of this, Israel cried out to God for help (what took them so long?), and the answer came by way of an angel giving introverted Gideon some huge assignments. At one point in his biography, his lack of self-confidence led him to put out a fleece (asking for a sign of assurance from God) not once, but twice.  Both times the LORD honored Gideon with confirmations that yes, this huge undertaking was definitely what God wanted Gideon to do.

The first venture was to pull down an altar to a false god that belonged to Gideon's father.  Then he was to build an altar in it's place and sacrifice a bull as a burnt offering to God. Gideon took ten of his servants and obeyed the LORD, although he was too afraid of his father's household and the men of the city, so they carried out this deed by the dark of night.

When the next morning's sun rays hit the renovated altar, it was soon discovered that Gideon was the mastermind of this action.  The men of the city were taking up arms to kill Gideon, but surprisingly his dad came to his defense saying that if the false god, Baal, was really a god, then the diety should defend himself.  The men of the city would not have to lay a hand on him.

Gideon was left alone and they gave him a new name, Jerubbaal, "let Baal contend against him." No harm came to him.

Gideon was a changed man after that.  Yes, he still had some apprehensions, but by and large, he was no longer  an unknown farmer.  He would not be perceived by his countrymen in quite the same way ever again.  There was no turning back if the enemy of his people was to be defeated.

I think about that.  Where am I now? Where have I been? Am I going to move forward, or am I going to retreat to what is familiar and what worked for me way back when?  

Some people do that, you know.  They are confronted with new places and people, new ways of doing things and they get scared.  They don't like change in spite of the fact that some good has been realized along the way.  They decide to turn and run back to the former and the familiar.  

But what about God?  Does He want us to give up and run away?  I thought He promised us an abundant life! (John 10:10) Didn't He promise to make all things new for His people? (2 Corinthians 5:17 and Revelation 21:5) Do we have to wait to die and go to heaven for that?  What about adventure with Him in the here and now? 

No, I'm not who I used to be.  I've been through some stuff that has changed me, rearranged my perceptions of life, and given me a taste for whatever it is God has in store.  I have no business going where I used to go and doing all that I used to do -- even the applaudable things.  All of that was preparing me for what lies ahead.  

I look forward to seeing what that is!

John 10:10 
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Revelation 21:5

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said until me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

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