“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:17
I ran across this verse a couple years ago. After reading it, the first thing I thought was, “Wow. It’s really cool that people get to experience that radical change when they come to Christ.” In my mind, that verse became characterized by this set of thoughts. I knew that people change upon receiving Christ, but I never felt it applicable to my own life, partly because I have always been a Christian. Never did I go through a rebellious stage, nor did I have a prodigal son experience that would require me to be changed — made new — by Christ.
Recently, however, my attitude has been changed and this verse is now something I’ve experienced for myself.
Anyone who has known me for any amount of time has, I’m sure, quickly picked-up on my deep love of animals. I’ve had it all my life, and it has driven me to the point I’m at today. Up until about February of this year I knew I was going to go into wildlife conservation. It only made sense — in this field I could nurture my love of animals while satisfying my desires to work with and protect them. The best part of it all? Limited human contact! You see, as big as my heart was for people, it was exponentially greater for animals. I often told myself, and sometimes other people, “There are enough people out there trying to cure cancer and end world hunger. I need to help save the animals.” I really felt that the call upon my life was to help preserve God’s gift of nature and its inhabitants, educating people and working with animals.
As I mentioned in my previous post, during my spring semester of college the Lord asked many things of me. One of the things He asked me to surrender to Him was the plan I had for my future, the one that included graduate school and working with animals. Surrendering this extremely important part of my life to Him meant that I was 1. putting Him above my greatest desire, and 2. trusting that He was in control of my career and my future, which is very scary for me. Like Abraham did with Isaac in Genesis, I took that which I cherished most up to the mountain as a sacrifice, unsure of whether I would get to carry it back down with me.
That was in February/March. It’s July and ’m still waiting atop the mountain, unsure of whether I’m going into wildlife conservation or not. BUT, God has not been absent.
The thing is, God has radically changed my heart. My heart, which was previously bent towards animals, has been reoriented. Without my asking Him to — like it really would’ve mattered — Jesus began remolding and reshaping my heart in every area of my life (family, academics, relationship, future, etc.).
One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed, though, is that I care a WHOLE lot more about people now than I ever have before. Not that I didn’t care about people before…I just cared more about animals. That’s different, now. The following words came out of my mouth just a few months ago:
“The earth is going to die. It’s not going to live forever. The animals are going to die with it. Instead of being worried about that which is going to die anyway, I should focus on helping to save those who have the opportunity to live in eternal life with the Father.”
Woah. Anyone who knows what I’m now calling the old me knows that never ever would I have spoken those words. And it’s not to my credit, either. That word came from the heart of the Father for me. The new me — who I am in Christ — is radically different from the old me in so many ways, but this has to be the major difference. God has literally shown me what it is like to be made NEW in Christ! And my, how refreshing it is. What the Bible says about God — about US — is undeniably true.
Whether I turn out to be a missionary to Africa or the next Steve Irwin is irrelevant to me. I’m incredibly content with knowing that my heart has been realigned, though I didn’t see the adjustment necessary before. What I now have the pleasure of knowing is that I have been made new in Christ, and that He does, just like the Bible says, make new creations out of us.
1 Thess. 2:2
"...but with the help of our God we dared to tell His gospel in the face of strong opposition."