This past week I had the privilege of officiating at the funeral of a woman from our church who recently passed away. Her name was Jessica, and she had survived a difficult life. She grew up in a home with an alcoholic father who was physically abusive. When she was 5, her mother abandoned the family, never to be heard from again. At 29 she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. At 45 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And at 54 she developed brain cancer.
But none of those experiences and challenges defined Jessica - because at the age of 55, she met Jesus, and asked Him to be her Savior. And if you asked her about her past, or what her life was like growing up - she always started with talking about when she met Jesus, because she said that what came before that wasn’t important anymore.
Her life was an amazing testimony of how God can truly rescue and redeem us from our past - and make us completely new people. 2 Corinthians 5:17 describes it like this: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” I love that that passage begins with the word “anyone”, because it helps us understand that, when we come into a personal relationship with Jesus, our old selves - along with our past sins and struggles - are taken away, and we are made completely new. No matter what that past entailed.
It’s a truth that dramatically changed my friend Jessica’s life, and it’s truth that can change ours as well. So often, when we’ve come from a difficult or challenging past, or when we’ve given in to a persistent and recurring sin, we can struggle to move past the weight of those things in our present life. The result is that we struggle to live the new life God offers us through His Son because we’re still carrying around the baggage of who we used to be. But what my friend Jessica discovered is that Jesus doesn’t just offer us salvation from our sin, He offers a new life to go with it. The old life really is gone, and so it no longer has power over us.
So today, let’s be intentional about accepting the fullness of what God offers us through the death and resurrection of His Son. Let’s take our guilt and shame from our past and give them to God. Let’s ask Him to heal the wounds and hurts from life in this sin filled world. And above all, let’s thank and praise Him as we fully embrace and enjoy the new life He’s given us.