“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
Oftentimes, as believers, we forget the depth to which Christ has brought us out of our old sinful, painfully disobedient, chaotic lives! The longer we live in Christ and continue to build a foundation on Him, the farther we are disconnected from all of those old things that were molding us into someone we would not even recognize today. I don’t know about you guys, but I am forever thankful for Jesus! Everything in my life today is so much different than it once was and that is all because of him. I never want to go back to what was. But I’ll admit, just like most of you, some days it’s truly hard to remember the real “Brandy” that once existed.
I love moments when you feel like you’re finally able to say, “I can do this on my own,” and then the Holy Spirit just rocks your world and reminds you that you’re nothing without Jesus. Humble moments brought about by a spanking from the Holy Spirit…y’all know what I mean!
One of these moments came several years ago when a church member told me a story about myself. I know that sounds weird so just hang out with me for a few minutes. This person worked for a communications company and was responding to a service call at someone’s home in an area where I once lived. Through what I am certain was an interesting conversation starter, our church name was brought up. As this church member and the client began to discuss all of the things our church is involved in, my name (for whatever reason) was mentioned. His client recognized my name and said those famous words that no one likes to hear, oh I know her, I went to school with her.
Ok, let's pause in story-time for just a minute…am I the only one that sometimes cringes when someone says that about another person? I know her/him/them. The truth is you know of someone’s name and the human being that is attached to that name but you really may not know them. You know the things you’ve seen them do in the past but really not who they are today. You’ve heard things about them and maybe you had confident reasons to believe those things but it still doesn’t mean that you know them. I’m thankful that the person I was when I was in school some twenty six years ago (I know y’all think I’m lying because I’m only like thirty) is not the same person I am today. What about you?
Back to the story…so this church member goes on to tell his client some of the things I am responsible for and the ministries I am involved in at the church. Their client is astonished and frankly is in total disbelief! In fact, this person even goes as far as to say something along the lines of, no, there’s no way I know her and it’s got to be fake. He continues by telling me some of the stories he shared with her about things that I have done at the Revival Center and organizations I have been involved with.
In that moment when he was relaying this story back to me, I must be honest. My heart was crushed! Not because I knew that what was being said was no longer who I was but rather that the impact I made on this person many, many years ago was such a terrible one. We just don’t realize the impact we have on people. I say this often and believe it with every fiber of my being, we may be the only Jesus some people ever see. Don’t take that responsibility lightly! Someone’s impression on what a relationship with Jesus should look like depends on your witness. We must remember that, every place we go, in everything we do, and in every situation we are connected to.
So he continues to tell her story after story after story. She, in turn, shares her own stories of real life moments shared with me as a teenager. As he is telling me all of this, I just stood there, soaking it all in, reliving some of those times and remembering that the perception of who I was, in her eyes, wasn’t wrong. Was it disappointing, yes. Was it cringeworthy, you bet. Was it the truth of who I am today, absolutely not! Jesus has changed everything about my life! My walk is different. My talk is different. My choices are different. I can not change the stories of years gone by but because of Jesus the stories of my future will never resemble the past.
Humbling to say the least! Before he left her home, he invited her to church, encouraged her to check out our online campus and follow our church through social media (she lives too far away to attend every week). Whether she did or did not, I may never know, but that’s not really the point. You see, in those few moments standing in the sanctuary, I was abundantly reminded of what the blood of Jesus and his oh so precious grace and mercy can do in someone’s life! No matter what our back story is. No matter the impressions we left upon the lives of those in our past. No matter how ugly, angry, rebellious, and hellacious our past has been, it does not have to be who we are now! In fact, Romans 8:1-2 reminds us, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that lead to death.” The enemy wanted nothing more for me than to sit there in that humiliating moment and relive those moments with condemnation and regret. Instead, I chose to remember who I am in Christ today and the freedom, true freedom, that has given me! The old is passed away…teenager Brandy doesn’t live here anymore.
Maybe you’re reading this today and the enemy (as well as people from your past) keep trying to remind you of who you “really are” based on what they knew from many moons ago. Today is an amazing time to remind them of how Jesus has taken your past, used it to be able to help people who are struggling in that same season now, and made something really beautiful from the ashes on the ground all around your feet. Remember, when all the enemy can use against you are the things in your past, it means there is real growth in your spiritual walk. It means today your walk looks much different and your future looks even brighter!
It is true, there are so many details of the old me that I don’t remember on a daily basis and I’m thankful for that. There are other moments when I have a pity party and wonder if Jesus even remembers me. Moments where I struggle to be better than I once was but nowhere as good as I desire to be. If it sounds like I am talking to you today, be encouraged. Never forget that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope (Romans 5:3-4). As long as our hope is focused on Jesus, there is no story that can not be rewritten.
LOVE this! and LOVE YOU PASTOR BRANDY!
Yes, yes and yes! All of this! Thank you Brandy for sharing your heart. I love you! ❤️
Very well said, all of it! I love you mosterest!
I can truly relate to all of this and even my own family that hasn’t see me in years. I am not that girl I use to be I have so far to go Thank you Jesus I’m not who I use to be Thank you!!