Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Making Room for New Life

The final remnants of our last big snow of the year finally melted away this week, and when I stopped to look at the scraggly remains of my mums that are planted by the front sidewalk (I’m afraid they were run over a time or two by my kiddos and their bikes…) I noticed tiny little green sprouts coming up underneath the old, dead stems on one of them.  I looked over at a second plant, one that still had the bulk of last year’s growth hanging on, all dried out and brown, and I couldn’t see any evidence of new growth.  I wondered if perhaps I need to break off all the old, dead stems to make room for the new ones to sprout.  (Keep in mind that I am very new to this whole flower gardening thing…)  And then I started thinking: how much of last year’s junk am I holding on to, and would I be experiencing “new growth” if I let go of all that old stuff?

Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us that when we are in Christ, our old life is gone and a new one has begun.  For someone who has never before experienced redemption through Christ, this is an absolutely magnificent thing; the old, sinful lifestyle is gone and a new, spotless life is put into motion.  Your sins are no longer held against you and you have been given the gift of freedom from sin (Romans 6).  You no longer have any obligation to do anything that your old, sinful nature prods you to do.  And not only that, but you are now no longer responsible for the debt that your sin incurred! If you have ever experienced the suffocating pressure of being in debt that was completely beyond your ability to repay, then you can understand the amazing freedom that God has given us by allowing His Son to pay our spiritual debt.

But this “new life,” this freedom, is not just for new believers.  Leviticus 3:22-23 tells us that God’s mercy, His compassion, is new each and every morning.  Which means that you, being bought with the blood of Christ, your debt paid long ago, can still experience that newness each and every day.  Perhaps it’s not your own sin that is holding you; perhaps it is the beating you have taken from the world, or even from someone really close to you, that is crowding out any signs of new life.  Events that happened last week or last year, or maybe even a decade ago, are still hanging around your heart like last year’s dead foliage.  Perhaps you're living a life of regret for an opportunity missed or a poor choice that you made.  Or maybe you deal with the resentment of choices that were made for you.  You may need to forgive yourself or the person who hurt you, but let’s be honest, sometimes – even after you have forgiven someone – the hurt lingers.  And when you give that pain permission to keep hanging around by thinking about it and reliving the situation time and again, you are keeping yourself from experiencing the life of freedom that Jesus bought for you with His own blood.  Are you willing to let God take those things from you, to prune them from the everyday reality of your life?  Or are you clinging to them, dwelling on them, letting them suffocate the tender shoots of new life that are waiting to sprout?  

I challenge you today to make a conscious decision to surrender whatever it is that is keeping you from experiencing new life in Christ.  Visualize it; picture God’s hand reaching down and breaking away all those dead stems and leaves, and see your new life poking through the soil as all of that dead stuff is swept away.  Whether you need to confess your own sin, or whether you need to hand over the hurt that someone else inflicted on you, pray and surrender those things to God, the Giver of new life.

"...anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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