Monday, May 11, 2009

Who I Was vs. Who I Am

In response to my Aftermath post from last Friday, one anonymous commenter noted:

"Not to nit-pick, but you might consider changing your captions to "What I looked like then" and "What I look like now", as neither of them truely [sic] indicate who you WERE ore ARE in Christ."

A great observation. Spot-on accurate. By grace through faith I was saved through the blood of Jesus Christ, and at that moment--unalterably and for all eternity--I was fully justified, standing in Christ's perfection before the throne of God. My photos in no way reflect who I was/am in Christ, as I was and am whole in Him.

And yet...

Weight gain/loss is one of the very few areas on life where your subjugation of your will to the balance Christ calls us to is evident to all. Liars don't wear their lies hanging off the tip of their noses as they walk around this world, nor do adulterers have an actual scarlet 'A' emblazoned on their chests. Yet for the one who has repeatedly and consistently--for whatever reason--not 'beaten their body into submission,*" his or her sin IS worn for all the world to see. And there is no person who carries significant extra weight that does not (whether they admit it or not) feel--to some degree and at some point--the shame of the public nature of their struggles.

And so, though my standing as righteous before God through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ is completely unaltered by my weight--whatever it may be--the evidence of Christ's work in me in IS truly evidenced by the photos I posted. Christ's authority over this area of my life is noticeably absent in the first photo. And while the establishment of His authority is not a prerequisite to the second photo (many have lost weight without victory in Christ), my declaration of His transforming work is confirmed and visible in the second. I was a different person in photo one, a woman whose sinful will was hopelessly triumphing over her. In photo two, I am a woman who has found victory in Christ, one tiny step at a time.

Even as I type this, I find myself trepidatious. There are many toes to be stepped on when you discuss this area of life, even if I only apply these truths to me. I have been on the receiving end of hurtful or convicting comments about my weight, and I didn't like it one bit. So please know that I indict no one. I offer only my story, my understandings, knowing that there are a million caveats, exceptions, unique stories. I make no claim on what other's lives should be (that is the Holy Spirit's job), and I find myself ever cognisant that I live in constant danger of falling back into my previous sins and falling under the judgment of the very words I am now typing. I am NOT saying I have arrived. I am NOT saying I am perfected. My testimony is simply the declaration of what I have seen God do in the past 19 months. But I understand that the truest test is found over time, much time.

I once suffered from really significant, whole-body joint pain. I have described it a couple of times in this blog. The doctors could find no cause nor could they find solutions. No changes I made in my life/lifestyle significantly changed the level of my pain. Even strong medications simply dulled it, and I lived in that pain for almost five years.

Then one Sunday evening, the elders of my church offered--as part of an evening prayer service--to offer to pray over anyone sick in accordance with James 5's admonition: "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord." I went forward, and they did pray over me. The very next verse in James 5 says, "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven." And it turns out, God was pleased to heal me that day. But I didn't truly know if I was healed until I had gone off the medication and been off long enough to prove that it wasn't returning, a several month process.

It has now been five years since that day, and I am still pain free and medication-free. It has been time that has proved my healing. It was affected at once, but it was affirmed over time. And so it will be with this Journey.

A few years ago, our church had a guest preacher who said that while he read modern Bible commentators/authors, the ones he liked best were the dead ones, the ones whose lives proved all the way through that they were Christ's man/woman. And so, perhaps, should we view this Journey. It is a journey until this wretched body is glorified. And then...O then...the truest victory. Life over death. Glorification over debasement. No more struggles, no more 'beating our bodies into submission.*' Only perfect rest. And, hopefully, a trail of smaller victories which will echo His greatness throughout all eternity.

So thank you, Anonymous Commenter, for highlighting truth, and for giving me opportunity to consider it. May the rest of my days declare both His saving grace and His transforming grace, so that I may always be...

To the praise of His glorious grace,

Eternally, in Christ, I am:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory. --Ephesians 1:3-14, NIV

*1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (NIV): Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

(c) 2009


Jerry said...

“I am not what I ought to be — ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be — I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good! I am not what I hope to be — soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” - John Newton

Jonathan said...

Great post

ShalomSeeker said...

Ah...Uncle J. If only I had known those words before I began, I could have saved everyone a lot of time! A perfect quote. Thank you. :-)