While God wishes that we come to Him the moment we are old enough to formulate intelligent thoughts, the truth is many of us will make the decision to follow Jesus after an incident has occurred that has left us discouraged, depressed, and hopeless.
For some, this can be a time where they face a serious illness or injury that could have led to the end of their life. Maybe they lost someone incredibly important to them or they had a traumatic event occur, such as finding themselves homeless or under arrest, facing serious prison time. It is these kinds of events that lead a person to cry out to God, hoping He will give them strength during this trying time or even alter the circumstances all together.
The Israelites Cry Out to God
If you consider the woes of the Israelites, this is what happened to them. They were desperate, as the later pharaohs did not know Jacob or Joseph and, out of fear that the Israelite people were becoming too numerous, chose to enslave them.
The account told in Exodus makes it clear that conditions were terrible. The slave masters were directed by the pharaoh to oppress the Israelites (Ex. 1:11), and the masters worked them ruthlessly making their lives bitter (Ex. 1:12-14). The conditions became so bad that the pharaoh decreed that the midwives were to kill every male born child (Ex. 1:16).
Clearly, the Israelite people felt a great deal of desperation, crying out to their God to help them through this tragic period. That help came in the form of Moses, who God sent to pharaoh to demand that his people be let go.
The people were desperate, and it may even be likely that they had not been following God much during this time. We don’t know what the heart was of these people, only that they knew that when things had gotten to a point of complete desperation that Yahweh was there for them.
God Wants to Make You New
This is the point that many of us reach. We become so desperate in our despair that we cry out to our God, Jesus, asking him to save us from the peril we are in.
What we expect is that God will remove the struggle we are enduring. He will take away the illness, get the charges against us removed, or help us in some way that will give us security. A belief that He is there with us to help us through this trying time.
While He may do that, what can be sure is that our amazing Father will transform our lives. His purpose is to mold us in such a way that we will not only be receptive to His commands, His voice, but that we will become something entirely new.
No, God is not going to give you a different look, alter your physical appearance, or give you new clothes. This is not about an outward transformation but is about an inward one. In 2 Cor. 5:17 Paul writes:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
The word that is translated here as creation is ktisis, which literally means thing, creation, creature. What God is telling us through this text is that when we come to accept Jesus into our heart that we are something entirely new. You may look the same, you may have the same voice, you may even have the same job and family, but God has changed you as a person.
This may seem incredible in many ways, and it is. What God is telling us is that he will take away the things about us that have caused us grief beyond imagination, and turn that into something that is beyond our belief. A place where we can let go of frustration, guilt, depression, and all of the other negative things in our lives that have torn us down.
If truth be told, every one of us is carrying around a great deal of pain and suffering, often caused by things that occurred years before. Someone physically or sexually harmed you when you were younger, and that still debilitates you to this day. Maybe kids bullied you or called you names when you were younger, and those names have become what you believe you are.
They say that sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you, but that is the biggest lie ever told. Words hurt, and the things that had been said to us can alter everything about how we perceive ourselves, especially when they come from someone whose opinion means so much to us.
That all has changed, however. Even if you are or were those things that people said about you, Christ has made you something new. That does not mean that the consequences of the things that you have done are now gone. It simply means that in the eyes of God you are something brand-new, and that all of the guilt, shame, and hatred that you have in your heart is gone if you decide to allow that to be true.
All it takes is a simple acceptance of Jesus. A choice to decide to put your faith in the things that he has done for you.
Unfortunately, this can be the hardest thing of all to do. It is not easy to put your entire faith in someone else, especially when you have ingrained ideas in your head that make you believe that you are something else. This is the challenge that we as Christians face on a daily basis.
This is not a new teaching to many of you. You likely have heard this very message dozens of time before, but if we are going to move forward, to become something new, then we must ensure that we recognize this truth. The reason is that we are meant to be something brand new from the moment we accept Jesus, but we become afraid and refuse to embrace this newness. Why do we do this? That is something we will examine more closely in our next lesson.
By Robert Pannier