Wednesday, April 27, 2016

You Can't Go Home Again

             When someone asks me where home is, my first response is to tell them home is North Carolina. But, in all actuality, home is Iowa. I was born and raised in the heartland of America. The wide open spaces of our nation that is filled with rich soil ripe and ready for corn. This week I am back visiting with family, catching up with old friends and getting to know a few new ones too. I enjoy coming home to visit, and I should probably come more often, but there is also this part of me that cringes when I get here. A part of me that remembers who I once was as I drive through the streets of where I used to live, where I went to middle school and high school, where I had my very first kiss.
   Many of these memories came flooding back to me yesterday morning as I was out for an early morning run. The sun was coming up over the plains and the smell of fresh tilled dirt was rising up out of the earth to greet me. As the sun hit the sky my heart began to sing praises to my God and King for His mercy and for the grace that He has so generously bestowed upon this sinner’s heart and for the foreknowledge He had to take me from here and plant me somewhere else. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I stayed here in Iowa. Would I be a Christian? Would I be the woman I am today? By His grace I am who I am, and I thank Him for it all today. The me that once was is gone and this woman, standing in the midst of corn fields is once and for all, a new creation. As this realization rushed over me, I breathed a sigh of relief.
            Yet there I was bringing up old memories, thinking about old times, good and bad, and wondering about it all. Even with all this knowledge and hope and promise of being a new creation, I realized I was still holding onto the past. Why is the old me still trying to cling to the past? Why can’t I seem to finally, once and for all put all these memories to rest? Why can’t I once and for all just let it all go and run freely into the waiting arms of His glorious grace? Because I haven’t yet accepted the truth that who I once was, no matter where I stand, is dead and gone, buried in the tomb of His grace.
            “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
            Coming home always leads to shared memories of relations who have passed, of times spent good and bad. We sit and talk and catch up, and remember our childhood like it was yesterday. But coming home also brings up memories of who I used to be. Everyone up here remembers the old me, the me I never want to be. I am not that woman anymore. I am not that scared girl, that lost girl, that hopeless woman who was searching for something greater. I am a new creation. I am no longer shaped and influenced by this world, or the woman I once was. I am shaped and influenced by Christ who loves me and moves inside of me. All of my experiences, all of my mistakes, all of my joys, hurts and pain from before Christ are gone, they are no longer. They are dead and even though the memory still lingers, that old me has no influence over me anymore.
            I am a new creation. I don’t see the world the same as I did before Christ. I don’t feel the same, think the same, or even live the same. What characterized me before, who I was and who people knew me as is gone. That girl died the day I accepted Jesus Christ. I have taken on a new view and I see life no longer through the eyes of sin and shame, but through eyes of glory and grace. My life before Christ is gone, there are memories, there are people and places that still cling to me, but they no longer have a life in me. Who I was then is not who I am now, and I praise God for the grace in the midst of it all.
            I am a new creation. I am being molded, and shaped into a vessel of glory for the Master’s use. Nothing here at home can affect me unless I let it. When something dies it no longer has any affect upon the earth. For instance, when a tree dies and falls to the ground it no longer produces oxygen and no longer provides shade, the effects of its life, the impact it made is gone. We may see a remnant of it, or remember fondly how we used to sit under its cooling breeze, but it no longer has any influence on us whatsoever. When you became a Christians, the old man you used to be died, it was buried and put to rest and who you were, what characterized you and shaped you no longer has any influence over you. You may recall its affect, but it cannot change you, shape you or mold you anymore.

You can’t come home again, because this is not your home. You can’t come home again because the man who once lived here is dead, and new life has begun. Don’t waste your day living in the memory of who you were. Embrace the promise of life you have been given in Jesus Christ. The old has passed away, the new has come, don’t let the memories of yesterday stumble you in the hope of today. Be new today. Amen?