“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold , all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
When I first heard that verse, it shook me. It sounded great to be a new creation in Christ, but I had accepted Jesus and didn’t feel like I was a new creation. I was 12 years old. Turns out, I didn’t really understand salvation (I still don’t have all the answers and won’t until Heaven) and so a few years ago, while watching Star Trek (The original series), I got to thinking about this verse and went to God in prayer. Instead of begging Him to take a burden I didn’t know I had or a burden I didn’t understand, I surrendered to Him and His Will, to His Love, and accepted His free gift. When I opened my eyes, what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17 made sense.
I was a new creation in Christ.
As we enter a new year, a new decade, I found myself on what I call a “growth journey.” I choose the word journey because this is not a spurt like a sprint done in a day, this is not a marathon that feels more like work and dragging yourself across the finish line. It’s a journey with hills and valleys and places to run wild and places to walk and enjoy the view, places to rest and soak in the Presence of God. This journey of growth was placed on me through the loving words of my close friends, or as Sheila Walsh would call them, my safe-place sisters (I LOVE that!). My friends came to me with love and hurt and told me I wasn’t living right, I was hurting those I love and I was hurting me. How did this happen? How did I go from a new creation in Christ to hurting myself and those I love?
I stopped growing.
When a tree is planted it must be tended to in order to grow. If the tree doesn’t grow, it dies. Relationships and especially our relationship with God works the same way. If we don’t tend to our relationships (sometimes daily), they wither and die. I let my relationship with God get pushed to the back-burner and it withered, I’m so doing I stopped living right. Growth isn’t always sunshine and rainbows either. Ask any growing child and they will tell you, growing pains hurt. Growth in a relationship isn’t always easy, sometimes hurts, but is worth it on the other side.
Thus the growth journey began.
It started a couple weeks ago when we left work for break. That’s when my friends (my Bonus Fam) set me on this journey. I sought Christian counseling to get an outside perspective and I dove into God and His Word. I prayed and cried out to Him, letting Him hear all I had to say. I grabbed books by Christian authors and surrounded myself with words from God to help. Through some deep digging within myself and my difficult past, God unearthed feelings I thought I was passed. He helped me to accept myself and love myself again. God helped me to embrace my royal title as Daughter of the King.
I began to grow.
Now, two weeks in and 5 books later, I feel like a new creation again. That mountaintop feeling is alive and well. The new year began and I’ve got new habits to keep feeding. A daily routine of confession and prayer and reading and filling up with the Holy Spirit…except that all changes tomorrow. We go back to work tomorrow. The journey changes, it doesn’t end. As I go back to work and my routine shifts to add in this new dynamic I feel an excited peace about it (because that makes sense, right?). I am excited to get back to my work and the office I feel called to, the work I love, the people I care so much about. I am at peace with the fact that this new dynamic will be a new challenge to take on, a challenge I could never face without God in me. My routine may change, but Jesus never will. Praise God for that!
This new year and new decade is a time for change, a time for growth and a time to focus in on God. I don’t know what this year holds for any of us, I don’t know what the last year or decade has held for you. Maybe you’ve faced a season of heartache and pain and a journey of growth sounds incredibly impossible right now. Or maybe you’ve had a time of joy and rejoicing and a growth journey sounds like an exciting opportunity to try. Or perhaps you fall somewhere in the middle and growing closer to God sounds good some days but not every day. That’s okay. We all face different seasons, we all face things in different ways. What I know is this, God is with you even when you don’t feel Him. He’s there, feeling the pain you feel and loving you through all of it. He’s there, celebrating with you and rejoicing during the good times.
Wherever life has you right now, know that I am praying for you in this new year. I am praying that your relationship with God would grow and that He will come close to you. I pray that this new decade would hold a glorious blessing for you and His glory.
We are a new creation in Christ, may we all grow closer to Him each day.