by Liz Curtis Higgs
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
When this Former Bad Girl received Christ, you can imagine what my coworkers thought when I danced out the door on a Friday afternoon shouting, "Party!" and then strolled in Monday morning saying, "Praise the Lord, I’ve been baptized!"
Did they notice? Oh, baby.
As spring turned into summer, I soared and stumbled along my new walk with Christ, watched carefully by my coworkers, who were curious about the changes they were seeing.
One October day, our receptionist asked me, "Liz, what does it mean to be a Christian?"
Uh-oh. The most important question ever. Did I have an answer at the ready? I did not. Desperately looking around for inspiration, I saw a ceramic pumpkin on display and stammered, "Oh, Alice, it’s just like being a pumpkin."
"Really?" she asked. "What do you mean by that?"
Friend, I had no idea what I meant. After silently pleading for the Lord to make sense of my nonsense, I said, "Well, God chooses us out of the pumpkin patch of life." Whew.
"No kidding?" Alice nodded thoughtfully. "Tell me more."
More? Another prayer, another leap of faith. "We’re dirty, right? From being out in the field? So, God washes us on the outside. That’s like baptism. Then He pierces our thick skins with the double-edged sword of His Word so He can clean out all that icky stuff on the inside."
Alice made a face, no doubt remembering the last time she’d plunged her hands into a warm, slimy pumpkin. Squish.
"Yuck," I agreed. "And those slimy seeds? Bitterness and discontent can cling to our hearts just like those stubborn seeds. Thank goodness God is willing to clean us out, because He’s the only One who can."
"Okay …" She was still listening, still taking it all in. "Then what?"
The Lord had a swift answer for both of us.
"He gives us a brand new face, Alice."
I swallowed hard, overwhelmed by her open expression, knowing God was at work, right then and there. "He gives us eyes that see like His, without blinking or turning away. A nose to capture the fragrant aroma of His sacrifice. And a mouth that smiles with joy."
"Then …" I blinked away tears. Oh, Alice! Do you see? "He fills us with the light of His Spirit and puts us out in a dark world to shine for Him."
Her eyes widened. "Boy, that all makes so much sense!"
My hands shook as I reached for a pencil, wanting to write down everything God had shown us. Over the years, I shared this parable in many places, until it took on a life of its own and began spinning around the Internet. If it ever appears in your inbox, now you know the rest of the story!
What matters most is what happened next: Alice was made new.
Not long after our conversation, Alice gave her heart to God and was scrubbed clean, inside and out. Just as today’s verse tells us, "If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17) Alice’s old life wasn’t nearly as hairy and scary as mine, but she was forgiven all the same. So was I.
And those slimy seeds that represent our old sins? God has a plan for those, too. They can be sprinkled with salt, roasted to perfection and shared with others, just as we can use our past experiences to speak to loved ones who are stuck in the yuck.
Heavenly Father, when I invited You inside my dark heart, I feared my less-than-lovely past would turn You away forever. Yet, You willingly plunged Your holy hands into my unholy mess and gave me a new heart. This season and every season, Lord, help my sisters and me shine for Your glory, praying others will hear Your story. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me." (NASB)
John 4:35b, "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." (NIV)
Stop by Liz’s blog, where she offers a free weekly Bible series on opening God’s Word and embracing the Good News.