Author: Katie Wickham
Dozens of beady, plastic eyes stared back at me from the oversized net that threatened to tear from the previously secure hooks, pulled precariously from the walls with the weight of the occupants housed inside it. Teddy bears of various sizes, floppy eared, multi-color rabbits with bowties and ingratiating smiles, the remnants of past Easters. There were dolls whose hair now resembled something that only mice would find comfort in, and I can’t forget the oversized, now dirty lamb with the pink bow that I’m pretty sure held some kind of power over my two youngest girls, as they both insisted they still “needed” it.
Oh, I had downsized this horde a little here and there. Every time I had to pick up this army of stuffed animals I would pick out one or two I knew my youngest wouldn’t miss and quietly send them off on another mission but as for the bulk I would periodically make the suggestion that we should find new homes for them. This idea was always met with tears and loud protests. Until one day. This day, three of us walked in to tackle this growing problem (I think it was at the point that the net really did fall off it’s hooks). These two youngest girls had decidedthat it was time to put away, for good, the old. They kept a few of their favorites of course, but they were now ready to move on.
Did they look back? Of course, for a moment at least. I saw a few times, a wistfulness in their eyes, maybe even a desire to rip open that plastic bag again and take them back but this time they were ready.
Perhaps some of you can relate?
Lot’s wife will forever be remembered as the one who looked back. I’ve heard the story many times. A family fleeing in the early hours of the morning, escaping, by the grace of God, the coming judgement. I’ve often wondered what was going through the mind of Lot’s wife in those moments. Was it curiosity? Was she thinking of friends she left behind? Whatever the pull was, she turned around, she glanced backward. No name was given her, her end a reminder that what God has placed before us is so much better than what lies behind us. (see Gen 19).
The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians “You were taught with regard to your old life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds”. (Eph 4:22-24 NIV).
How do we do this?
I believe the place to start is repentance. As believers, we know we’re going to stumble. It’s human nature, but repenting and being open to receiving the Lord’s guidance is a first step to putting away the old life. As one commentator pointed out with regard to Paul’s words “...the root of our problem is hardness of heart” (John Piper https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/put-on-the-new-person).
The next step is in recognizing and “putting off” the useless items in our lives. Again Paul explains in Ephesians, these would include deceipt, slander, unwholesome speech, bitterness, rage, licentiousness. In short any of those attitudes, habits, and way of life that we once lived in. Our faith in Jesus Christ should, if it’s sincere, produce a change in us. We should no longer look like the world. James made it clear that a faith that does not produce works is dead. (James 2:17 NIV).
I won’t pretend this is easy. I also wish I could say I had this mastered. Our old lives can seem like security blankets. They shield us from the world, they allow us to blend. But blending was never part of God’s plan for our lives. Courageousness, boldness, unashamedly walking with Christ, this is what we were called to do. Christ should be a visible presence in our lives.
Pause for a moment this week to ask yourself what you’re holding on to, what thoughts, attitudes, or habits you’re storing away, then give them to God. That was the old life, but we have been made new.
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11)