Saturday, September 6, 2014

That's Not Me Anymore

                It has been awhile since I have blogged. The reason is that I went home to Iowa for a week. It had been over three years since I had been back. I will be honest; it is hard for me to go home to Iowa. There are a lot of memories there for me, some good and some I would much rather choose to forget. When I moved from Iowa with my husband to North Carolina, I was not a Christian. In fact, I wanted nothing to do with God and Jesus. I was more concerned about myself, myself and myself. But now, almost seventeen years later I am a different person to who I was then. I have the Lord Jesus Christ to thank for that as well.
                It was good to see my family, spend some time with my sister, my Aunt, my Dad, and my
nephews and nieces. We have a family reunion and I got to spend some time with my cousin who was more like a brother to me growing up, than a cousin. One of the reasons that I struggle with going back to Iowa is that when I go back I am reminded of who I once was. It is also a place where people remember me as who I once was, and do not see me for who I am in Christ. This brought to my mind the scripture in Matthew 13:57, “But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Because sometimes it feels like they want to remember me as who I was and not who I am in Christ today.
                When I go back to Iowa I am reminded of the sins of my past. The memories of the hurts and the pain I caused so many. I am also reminded of my childhood, and those that have passed on whom I miss so dearly. That is one of the reasons why I don’t go back to Iowa very often, and if I do go back it is not for any length of time. But the Lord is always faithful to remind me that He is with me. His mercy is new every morning, and that who I was then is not who He sees when He looks at me. I was a drunkard, an idolater, a drug addict and an adulterer. But now, I am free. I am righteous, I am beloved, and most importantly,  I am His. That is all that matters to Him, and that is all that should matter to me.
                It was a good visit. I enjoyed it more this time, and was able to see some family that I have lost contact with and see some dear old friends whom I have not spoken to in many years. My hope and prayer was that I could go back and be a light and an encouragement to someone, anyone who needed a little more faith; I prayed I could give them a boost and that the Lord would work through me to touch them. And He did. I am so thankful now that I can go back without fear of meeting someone who might bring up my past. Because, my friends, the past is gone. Who we are today in Christ is not who we were yesterday and not who we will be tomorrow. In the end, I was the one who was encouraged. The Lord working in me and helping me to lay down all that was behind so that I could continue to press towards the high calling He has placed before me.
   There are going to be those places, those homes that we revisit where people will only remember us as we were before Christ came into our lives. But we have the truth of God living in us. We have the truth that we are changed, we are new creations in the Lord and no matter what they say, no matter what they bring to your remembrance you can reply “Yes, but Jesus Christ has set me free and I am a new person.” That in and of itself is testimony enough to the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ and the impact He has on those who believe in Him.
                I was blessed by this trip more so than any other. I am thankful that the Lord did allow me to go and spend some time with people that I love and that I needed to reconnect with. I am thankful that the time that He gave me with each and every one of them was special and more memories were made. We laughed together, we cried together, and yes, I even preached a little. (I can’t help myself when it comes to that!)  In the end, on the nineteen hour car ride home, I was able to take the opportunity to share Jesus Christ with my future son in law, and my daughter who has gone astray. I was able to share who I was then and how Christ has changed my life with my daughter and her fiancĂ©e in a way that I don’t think would have happened had we not taken this trip. He heard the stories, but then he saw me. He saw me for who I was today and not who I was then, and he realized that Jesus Christ was the difference. Jesus was able to use me as a witness for His glory, and I pray, that this opportunity, this trip back to Iowa will draw them both to start their marriage on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. Who I was then, is not who I am today and not who I will be tomorrow. For each and every day I am being made new, I am being recreated into the woman God my Father desires me to be, and I cannot thank Him enough for saving me from the sin and the death that I was living in back in Iowa.

                Praise be to Jesus Christ and God our Father for the loving mercy He shed abroad in my heart so that I can truly say, “I am no longer me.” Amen and Amen.