Growing up, singing in church, I was “a sinner saved by grace.” As the saying goes, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” In other words, my job was to make mistakes and God’s job was to forgive me and set me straight. It was miserable most of the time, because I saw my mistakes bigger than the God who was saving and sanctifying me. I was glad when I found out that’s not how God sees me.
As Dr. Neil Anderson points out, “we are saints who sin occasionally.” God sees the “new man” He has created in Christ Jesus, the person who is accepted, secure, significant. We can even say God likes us. I decided if God can like me, the person He created, the one He redeemed, the person He knows me to be, then even I can like myself, with my imperfections. (For a full size version of “Who I am in Christ,” Click Here.)
I was afraid the things I did not like about myself were the things that made God not like me either. Actually this attitude is an insult to God. He loved us while we were still ignorant sinners and sent His Son to die for us so we could be reconciled to Him. God is love and He cannot be anything else; He does not change. When I apologized to my Heavenly Father for my unbelief, He gave me cleansing and a freshness to open up my life and my spirit to Him.
He wants to bless me and I am learning to let Him. One way He blesses is to reveal what He has in store for me. The Bible is not theory, it’s just that we have not seen everything God talks about yet. He says I am a saint, someone He has chosen and made holy, special to Him. It was His idea and He knows all the wonderful gifts and abilities He invested in me. If I keep answering His calling, I will keep learning and He will go on revealing. Let me give a recent personal example.
All my life people thought I was a scientist, taking in facts, analyzing and synthesizing new ideas. Unbeknownst to me or my friends, I am an artist too. The Lord moved me to research the reality of Heaven, so I checked out Scripture and people’s testimonies. Writing a historical description of God revealing Heaven, which is His Home, over the last 6,000 years was challenging, but not that hard. I had done this work for many topics in my 20 years as pastor and missionary. Then God gave me a hard assignment.
Even though I was impressed by my description, He pointed out most people would not be motivated to read it. So He told me to describe His Home in a novel. Me, write a novel? I would never have realized I had this capability if He had not called me and I had not obeyed. You can read it at www.scribd.com/martinvh. I am thrilled that over 1,200 people from all around the world have already looked at my writing. When He calls you, say “Yes.” If you explore your calling, you will find out God has a destiny in mind for you.
As Jesus told Retha McPherson in South Africa, “your life is in little pieces. If you try to put them together into a mosaic picture, you will cut your fingers on the edges of the tiles. Surrender the pieces of your life to me and I will create a beautiful mosaic picture out of your life.”
Our destiny is that wonderful picture that God sees before Him, but we have no inkling of. By faith we say, “Yes, I want to become that person You know I can become.” Ephesians 4:24 says, “and put on the new man, which, according to God, was created in righteousness and kindness of the truth.” He has already created the New Me. Everything I have learned about him has shown me I want what God wants.
I used to be a melancholy, critical, judgmental, timid person, always swinging between both sides of an issue, hesitating to make any decisions. I did not like myself. Psych books showed me I had company and explained my problem; I just could not stop and I could not do all the loving things God talks about in the Bible. Ephesians 4:23 tells me where the change has to take place: I must “be renewed in the spirit of my mind.” By prayer the spirit God created in me connects with God Himself, who is a Spirit. We “have fellowship with one another and He cleanses me of all unrighteousness.”
I was amazed when the Lord answered prayer and stopped my normal ambivalence (doublemindedness). By regular practice I have worked at giving thanks instead of griping and this has changed my attitude, my emotions, my view of God, and cured my stomachaches. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18) The Spirit of God and my human spirit may be invisible, but their works are certainly real to experience. This has opened my mind to believe what God says about me is true. I have a birthright.
In Genesis we read that the Lord gave Abraham promises: a family, a nation, land, a blessing for the nations. This promise gave his sons a birthright. They could expect to inherit a blessing and be part of a large family and help God to make an impact on the world. We see in Isaac’s (Abraham’s son) two sons divergent attitudes about the worth of this birthright. Esau wanted something immediately fulfilling (a pot of stew) and Jacob was willing to cheat to get hold of the birthright and blessing from Isaac. By being adopted into God’s family, you and I have a birthright (Romans 8:12-17). It is easy to be distracted from God’s eternal values and be preoccupied with the things my body and emotions care about, or to go along with people’s opinions and physical attraction. I don’t want to lose out on God’s generous gifts. Romans 8 speaks of security, freedom from fear, sonship instead of slavery and eternal wealth (along with Christ’s sufferings).
The more the spirit of my mind agrees with God and His Word, the more joy I have in the things that make Him happy: faith, obedience, listening to His voice, loving the Family of God, worship. Indeed the new man that only God sees becomes more and more visible in my own eyes, though the good parts are not without effort. But God has a good memory and a great “forgetory.” He keeps track of all the good works and forgets all the sins we confess. Praise the Lord! Matthew 10:40-42 says He keeps track of all the little things as well as the ones I consider Big. Revelation 19:8 says all these little things will be our white robes in glory, publicly revealing the lifestyle here on earth that is precious to the Lord in Heaven. Some day I will know who I am and so will everyone else.
Like I have often said, “If you could see the real me, you would need sunglasses.” I John 3:2 tells us we will see Jesus face to face and that experience will transform us completely. We will be revealed in all our glory as He is revealed in His glory. What an amazing day that will be! For this we can truly use the word “awesome.”
I hope you are encouraged to be renewed by the spirit of your mind so you can agree with God for all the good things He has invested in you and for them to come clear more and more. God bless you daily as you walk with Him.