I’m always fascinated by those “before and after” pictures. Once I decided to submit myself for a free makeover at a well-known business that specializes in this. I went in looking like—well, myself. And came out looking like-–well, my husband says a witch! I had to agree. Finding the nearest restroom, I washed it all off. It was so not me!
I was reminded of this the other day when reading about the ultimate makeover in Colossians. Here’s the procedure God has performed and how He sees me:
Before: You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. (1:21)
After: Now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ …. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (1:22)
And the perfect wardrobe to go with that makeover?
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.…Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-15
I wonder what others see when they look at me…? The “before,” the “after” or the “still becoming”?
What happens in me when things go well? When a crisis comes? When I’m on my own? What do my responses say about my true character?
The “report cards” of the kings of Israel and Judah are very revealing. Here are some of the more dramatic ones.
When things went well…
…Solomon turned to worship his many wives’ foreign gods. (1 Kings 11)
…Amaziah, after trusting God for an amazing victory over an enemy, brought back that enemy’s worthless gods, adopted them as his own and worshipped them. (2 Chronicles 25:5-16)
…Josiah enjoyed a peaceful reign, radically committed to the Lord all the days of his life. Ahhh! (2 Kings 22:1-23:25)
When a crisis came…
…Asa, previously a very godly king, appealed to powerful neighbors instead of God, and then became a tyrant to his own people. When God punished him with illness, he turned to doctors instead of back to the Lord and died a painful death. (2 Chronicles 16)
…Jehoshaphat went straight to God for help. God took over from there and turned the enemies on one another. All Jehoshaphat’s people had to go was march into battle with songs instead of swords, then haul away the plunder. (2 Chronicles 20) Hezekiah’s story is very similar. (2 Kings 19:1, 14-36)
When a godly mentor was taken away…
–Joash enthusiastically served God as long as the priest (his guardian and mentor) was around. BUT when that man died, Joash turned right around and abandoned God, turning that same enthusiasm to the worship of heathen gods. (2 Chronicles 24) How could he?!?
–Uzziah “followed God during the lifetime of Zechariah, who taught him how to honor God….BUT once he became powerful, his pride destroyed him. He disobeyed the LORD his God.” (2 Chronicles 26:5, 16 NET)
What about me? What is my true character that will show through when my circumstances change—or if they don’t? Who am I, really?
Two small devotional books have special significance because they came from my parents. “Joy for the Journey,” by several women authors, was a gift from my mother. I love it both because of where it came from and because each short page has an insightful article that draws me closer to where God wants me to be. I scan through this book to review passages that I have marked, such as this by Laura Lewis Lanier:
Do not be afraid to suffer….It is from being shaken apart and not being destroyed that one becomes strong and courageous.
The other is an old,worn book, cover falling off, that I “claimed” from my dad’s collection after he passed away. It is “Consider Him,” by Vance Havner—a classic. Dad’s name is written in the front of the book, and many pages are marked with his pencil underlining. I search through those marked places in a search to know Dad better—what was really in his heart. Like this, for example:
Some believers live…so afraid of not doing God’s will that they fail to do His will, after all.
I wonder—when I am gone and others look through my books, will they find clues to my heart? To a heart that seeks the Lord passionately?