I'm not who I was

  As we were making our way to Illinois last Thursday and listening to KLove I heard a familiar song. Brandon Heath's voice rang out through the speakers as he sang "I'm not who I was". Every time I hear this song I am filled with a longing to be able to express those same thoughts to a number of people. It was no different this time as I listened to the lyrics and thought about my past.

  I didn't come to a personal faith in Christ until I was 20 years old. This left a lot of years for me to live for myself with little thought of others needs. I can think of numerous people that I hurt over the years, and I remember those who hurt me. I vowed never to forgive them and most importantly to never let anyone hurt me again. I built a rock wall around my heart that didn't allow love to enter or leave. But, then I met Jesus...

  Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ changed my world. That rock wall came tumbling down, and I allowed myself to feel again. I felt love, sorrow, joy, pain, loss, regret, excitement and a host of other emotions. I had to deal with my past and look at each experience with my new eyes. I found that an amazing thing happened: I began to accept the things that happened, and forgive those who caused them to happen. I genuinely started to heal. But one thing stood in my way for a long time. I could not forgive myself. I would be fine, and then all of a sudden Satan would whisper in my ear and remind me of who I used to be. All my sins would scream at me until I was consumed with guilt and regret. But Jesus came through again...

   I came to a place of true repentance and sorrow in Christ. Then I accepted His forgiveness which allowed a wonderful thing to happen: I forgave myself. If God can forgive my sin and wash me clean, then who am I to keep bringing it up again? By doing so, I was basically telling God that His work on the cross wasn't enough for my sin. I accepted the free gift of grace and finally became free.

   This experience has filled me with a longing to be able to somehow express to those people in my past that I am not the person I was back then. I am different, changed, made new! "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 I wish I could find everyone from my past and say "I'm sorry - I am different - I wish I was different back then - but please forgive me now," and even more "I forgive you - even if you don't think you need it, even if you don't want it - you have my forgiveness." 

  Some of you may be able to relate to what I'm feeling. If so, you'll probably enjoy the lyrics to Brandon Heath's "I'm not who I was"... this is our testimony if we are new creations in Jesus Christ!

I wish you could see me now 
I wish I could show you how 
I'm not who I was 
I used to be mad at you 
A little on the hurt side too 
But I'm not who I was 

I found my way around 
To forgiving you 
Some time ago 
But I never got to tell you so 

I found us in a photograph 
I saw me and I had to laugh 
You know, I'm not who I was 
You were there, you were right above me 
And I wonder if you ever loved me 
Just for who I was 

When the pain came back again 
Like a bitter friend 
It was all that I could do 
To keep myself from blaming you 

I was thinking maybe I 
I should let you know 
I am not the same 
But I never did forget your name 

Well the thing I find most amazing 
In amazing grace 
Is the chance to give it out 
Maybe that's what love is all about 

I wish you could see me now 
I wish I could show you how 
I'm not who I was

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive in Christ. He forgave us all our sins..."  Colossians 2:13