Often times when I am with friends and am reflecting upon my life, I refer to “Rhonda before Jesus” and “Rhonda after Jesus.” The difference, you ask? The desires of my heart.
Life before Jesus was all about me. I was attracted to what I believed would bring the greatest happiness. The truth is, it was a continual search for what I thought would bring joy; continual because it was something I never found. That is, until I met Him.
In the Message Bible, Galatians describes it perfectly. Beware, though—you might see yourself in parts of this; I know I did. I encourage you to read it slowly and not to beat yourself up as you do, because the truth of the matter, it paints a vivid picture of today’s society as well.
Galatians 5:19-20: “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time; repetitive, loveless, cheap sex, a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness, trinket gods, magic-show religion, paranoid loneliness, cutthroat competition, all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants, a brutal temper, an impotence to love or be loved, divided homes and divided lives, small-minded and lopsided pursuits, the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival, uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions, ugly parodies of community. I could go on.”
Scary, huh? Stay with me, because the Bible also gives us a picture of what happens when we live “God’s way.”
“He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard–things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” Galatians 5:22-23
Who wouldn’t want more of that?
I certainly did. However, for me, being created anew was not an overnight transformation. For a long time I felt I was in a battle of tug-of-war between the old and the new. I knew the truth, but even still, I should have placed more trust in God’s word that…
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2Corinthians 5:17
As I reflect, I can see how much of the battle was caused by the simple fact that I still chose to exist in an environment that only knew the old Rhonda. People that I had worked with for many years still wanted to be with the girl who partied long into the night. However, the deep stirrings in my heart were moving me to be someone different. Off-colored jokes no longer seemed funny and conversations became less meaningful, so I found ways to escape at an early hour. Sneaking away after dinner meetings became a game as I ushered myself quickly up the elevator to the seclusion of my room.
Peace was found in the stillness. Prayers brought comfort and mercies were new every morning.
God was teaching me…
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
It’s a choice. Humankind will keep you stuck on the old because this is what the god of this world desires–that you maintain your focus on yourself instead of on who God created you to be.