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*Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration*

New Life

2 Corinthians 5 - 17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone the new is here”!

Who can possibly fathom the magnificent mind, heart, and abilities of God? This wonderful God who intervenes in our very worst with His very best creating ways where there are no ways. He heals our pasts and presents to us a newly established future in him. He gives us spiritual sight to see His breathtaking beauty in every sunrise and sunset. He displays His awesome incredible colorfulness and diversity in every face from every tribe, people, nation and language! And we get to immerse ourselves in admiration of His handiwork with sacred reverence. Quite the view to live out our lives in but one that comes with a caution:

If our new lives were cars, Jesus would give us the keys with this note of importance to consider before letting us drive out of the parking lot: Be ever so sure to fix your eyes on the windshield not the “rear view mirror”! Straight ahead is where our “new what is” resides!

As the classic Billy Ocean song “Suddenly” so beautifully depicted in its lyrics: “Suddenly life has new meaning to me. There’s beauty up above and things we never take notice of. You wake up and suddenly, you’re in love”.

Be it a secular song, the spiritual is very much applicable. At twenty seven years of age I woke up from a long sleep and was suddenly aware of being loved by God with only one seemingly obvious choice of response at my disposal. To love Him back!

So, did I turn to “religion” as one might think? Not even close. I was introduced by God’s grace to the available “reality” of an intimate “relationship” with my Creator! One that transcends religion with its man-made textures and flavors, into a higher place where life is lived out with a heart forever marinating in its Lord’s immeasurable love. That’s called “flip the page” new!

Purpose To The Past

As you launch out on a journey in your vehicle you will notice, that which is in your “rear view mirror” at start up, gets increasingly smaller as you drive.

Simultaneously, your “windshield visual” never shrinks in size but continually reveals the ‘’new’’ that awaits your amazed perusal at each and every turn and bend in the road. There’s a lot of God orchestrated WOWS to experience when our eyes are fixed straight ahead!

So, are we to simply ignore our pasts, denying they ever existed? Well, that would in reality be impossible apart from full-blown amnesia setting in. Our ‘’what was’’ is a very important factor in arriving at our “what is”. When seen as such we can find ourselves grateful for every step and mis-step but not in a nostalgic kind of way. They’re not the “good old days” but they did have a purpose in directing us to where we now find ourselves.

God uses everything, the good the bad and the ugly, for His desired results. He wastes nothing. I can now minister to the person navigating through a nervous breakdown because I had one.

I can talk to the drug user because I was one. I can have compassion on the divorced because I have lived that nightmare. I can feel the pain of the hopeless heart because I’ve experienced a hopeless heart. I can legitimately love the unlovely because I was legitimately loved by God in my least loveable of times.

But to do so I must remember to revert to my Lord’s caution as He handed me the keys to my new life. Eyes straight ahead on the road I now travel!

So, how do I do both and this is profoundly important? I can share it but I cannot wear it! It simply is no longer applicable! When I reflect on my past for the benefit of another, I do so understanding that the life spoken of no longer exists. It’s an old version of me! It’s not who I am but rather who I was. Therefore two separate and clearly defined time frames must be in play, with the old being disallowed emotional access to the new.

It’s truly amazing how when God heals our past, then gives it purpose by using it to help others, it loses it’s sting! In a very real way it feels like we are talking about someone else while being aware that it is us but a very different us! An old version! A dead version! A past version! Folks, new life is in fact, new in every way! Not fancifully new but realistically new!

My dearly beloved sisters Shila and Pragna, would simply put it this way: I’VE CHANGED AND I KNOW IT!

Wardrobe Change

That’s right folks. A brand new wardrobe! That can never be a bad thing! But this one is equally and appropriately new in the light of our new-ness and very different than the clothes we wore before.

All of us used to cloth ourselves in one of two garments. Obvious un-righteousness as would be the case with me, with the other being self-thought self-righteousness. I’m not sure which one is worse but the bible describes them both as all-inclusively “filthy rags”, so let’s go with God’s opinion and accept they’re both bad for different reasons and quite smelly to God’s sensitive nostrils. He is holy and perfect! Although it would seem He has a much easier time dealing with the admittedly un-righteous. The bible makes clear, the religiously endowed Pharisees were never His favorite cup of tea.

This wardrobe change involves a trade-off like no other. An exchange of “rags to riches” must take place. A handing in the old for the new. Our un-righteousness and self-righteousness for the righteousness of Christ! The bible describes it as a “spiritual robe”. A majestic garment and gift of inheritance purchased through the cross to be worn with its well-deserved appreciation.

It is our singularly ordained, appointed, and anointed by God piece of clothing, not to be worn under or over anything else. All other articles of apparel would simply contaminate its divinely regal beauty. We’re to adorn ourselves with it at all times without interruption as its perfection and protection transmits to our souls our security in its Provider.

There’s Jewelry Involved

The ring of adoption! My goodness, what a beautifully spectacular addition! A gifted spiritual piece of jewelry to serve as a constant reminder of our adopted by God status as His sons and daughters with His included encouragement to call him Father. The ring of relationship with our Creator! Could there be anything more magnificent to wear on our finger.

They say that a perfect diamond, being observed from multiple angles, reflects its perfection in different ways based on different views. It never looks “less perfect” and so it is with our ring! Once again its perfection is a reflection of its Provider! It serves to remind us that our adoption is secured and sealed by its Creator who does all things very well!

We wear it with “appropriate pride” but never arrogance, understanding it wasn’t earned by us but rather gifted to us, freely. Our attitude while wearing this valued addition is therefore and always “extreme thankfulness”.

It’s All In Front

Everything previously described as inclusionary in our “new lives” will not be found in our “rear view mirrors”. It’s all in front of us. ‘’Windshields” are where “new life” is discovered. All that once was, no longer applies. Things have changed. We are different in every way as is our lives.

All “rear view mirrors” actually do is remind us of our “what was” with their unwelcomed and unproductive reminders. To also be aware of: Something else lives in that reflection. The one who would like to challenge the validity of your faith! That debate can only happen if we turn our focus on the past.

This we all know as fact: We can’t go forward and backward at the same time without suffering the consequences. Duality of viewing when driving a car leads to accidents. Usually big ones!

The Apostle Paul has something to impart on the matter in Philippians 3 - 12 & 13: “Not that I have already attained all of this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”.

Paul’s directive and direction couldn’t be more clear. First a ‘’forgetting” what is behind! Paul had a lot to forget! In his Pharisaic hay day he was the imprisoner and at times killer of Jesus followers. Wow, talk about rear view mirror issues!

But Paul knew if he was going to get to where he needed to, he would have to leave where he was! First and foremost, He needed to say goodbye to his previous “what was”.

After “forgetting’’ he moves to a directional change: “Straining toward what is ahead”.

God has created for us a “new” normal complete with a “new” future to be discovered, one day at a time as we fix our eyes forward on the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus!

Our “new” path has a landscape of breathtaking beauty to immerse our eyes in. Things that are heavenly textured with the reality and radiance of Christ. That being said, we have no business dabbling in dead things when so much life has been provided for our spiritual enjoyment and edification.

John 8 - 36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. Free from what? The past, with heavenly licence, enablement and encouragement to do so!

Also of note: “free indeed”: strongly emphasises the “indeed” as in totally free! If Paul could walk away from his “what was”, surely we can follow suit!

Galatians 5 - 1: “It is for freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”. The past is in every way a slave master.

If the temptation is too great to resist taking an occasional peek, then just remove the mirror. Its only real purpose is to hang those annoying Christmas tree deodorizers on. You won’t miss it! You also won’t miss its inferences and accusations!

My Ministry Into Our Ministry

Mark 6 - 38 & 41: “How many loaves do you have He asked?” “Go and see”. When they found out they said, “Five and two fish”. Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to His disciples to DISTRIBUTE to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all”. ( Five thousand plus, were fed that day! )

In the biblical story of the “fishes and loaves”, I so clearly see three dynamics in play to achieve the desired completion of the heavenly orchestrated equation. The young boy GAVE what little he had, our Lord then MULTIPLIED it, and the disciples then DISTRIBUTED it.

It’s interesting to note that Jesus, after the multiplying didn’t say, “Come and get it”. What He did say was, “Everyone find a place to sit on the grass and I’ll bring it to you, through my own”. Folks, He loves to involve us. He loves to make us matter! We are blessed beyond measure to be written into, His stories! Just imagine: Invited by Him to participate in His plans for others!

From the inception of the idea of writing books to be made available to “all freely”, there has never been a moment when I haven’t been aware of its ministry context. I could easily be seen as the “young boy” in the story. Jesus has most certainly multiplied my meager offering to Him.

So may I invite and encourage you to be a distributor of that which He has multiplied, thereby elevating “My Ministry” into “Our Ministry”, thus completing “His Ministry”. There’s something about that idea that sounds “perfect” to my heart!

We all have friends, family, work mates, school mates, etc. I’ve included a simple directional on “how to find” the “fishes and loaves”. Please feel free to share “what you eat” with others. You have no idea where it could lead to! That young boy’s mother could never have dreamed, what that little lunch she had prepared for her son on that fateful morning, would produce!

Thanks in advance. Bill Taylor

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