One benefit of moving to a new place, like when we moved to Irving, is that you have the gift of a clean slate. There may be a few people around you who know your life story, but largely, what others know about you is what you have chosen to tell them. Even if you're somewhat candid about who you've been, those people see who you are now - redeemed, restored, and renewed by the blood of Christ.
Coming home after four years away is making me face up to what I truly believe about my identity in Christ. It has been humbling. I've always had the abridged - appropriately vague when it needs to be - version of my testimony memorized, ready to share any time I might need to. I am all about getting my plunder from the enemy and giving God glory from what had been my shame. Of course, that includes the seriously good news that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. And I believe that I am a new creation with all my heart, even though I know that I am only a season of missed quiet times away from returning to my old folly.
So, what do I believe about myself when I am in my new Sunday School class at my new-old church and someone in that group knew me back when? Oh yeah, and they haven't known a thing about me since. For all they know, I am still who I was. What do I believe then? Do I really believe I'm a new creation? Can I hold my head up? Will I believe that Jesus' blood took away my shame, or will I roll around in the ashes of who I was?
Well, enemy, even though I'm tempted to play your game and it hurts my heart that I ever gave you this ammunition to use against me, this isn't going to happen. Jesus gave me a crown of beauty to wear instead of those ashes, and those ashes don't really go with my fine linen, bright and clean, that He's given me to wear. So you can keep your ashes. I'll have my crown.
*Allow me to speak to any young woman out there who may be flirting with or fully engaged in sin. Stop what you're doing and please repent before the Lord. Share your struggle with a trustworthy friend. Let Jesus restore you. You have no idea how long your sin has the capability of affecting your life. Let today be the last day it reigns over you. I love you.
2 Corinthians 2:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' " And he added, "These are the true words of God."
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes, the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.
8 "For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the LORD has blessed."
10 I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.