I Won't Go Back...
I've Been Changed
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” Matthew 16:16-18
“I’ve been changed
I’ve found joy
These are the opening lyrics of one of my favorite gospel songs by William McDowell, I Won’t Go Back. The song resonates with me because it is the testimony of “before and after”; the “before and after” moments of accepting Christ AND developing a relationship with Christ. The beauty of the “before and after” is that initially, to the naked eye…the non-spiritual eye…, the “before and after” is undetectable. However, undetectable to others initially, there is still a “before and after” moment for those that know Christ. This morning, my Pastor made a comment that served as affirmation for a lot of my conversations this year. Without quoting him exactly, he reiterated from a biblical perspective, when God changed someone’s name to indicate a new direction/promise for their life (i.e. Abram to Abraham Gen.17:5 and Jacob to Israel Gen.32:28) that name change often happened privately before it took place publicly. Here in the text, Jesus announces to Simon (who is now to be Peter) his future anointing for his life, seemingly before he was prepared to walk in that anointing.
Although I haven’t been given a new name, I have been given a new vision and purpose. Well, it was new to me. When I think back I recall my own journey and relationship with Christ and just how much I have changed. Recently, I posted the following on my personal Face Book page:
“I remember 11 years ago when I was asked to pray out loud at bible study, I looked at the person CRAZY and said “no”… I remember about 7 years ago, when I cussed a friend out RIGHT before we were to pray over the meal cause he wouldn’t stop talking and we were waiting on him before we could bless the food… And tonight, as the leader of our women’s mission team to Ghana asked me to close us out in prayer; I had a 2-second pause before agreeing and praying… I don’t know about you, but I KNOW I’VE BEEN CHANGED!!!”
If you would have told me 11 years ago that I would not only feel comfortable praying out loud, but was to become a minister and preach a sermon, I would have called you crazy. As much as I claimed to love God back then, I simply would not have accepted that for my life. Yet, God in His infinite wisdom has spent many days and nights speaking to me about the change being manifested in my life. And guess what? Not everyone wants to see me change. Not because they wish me ill will, but because they are simply use to the old me and desire to maintain that same type of relationship with me. But do you know when God changes you, ultimately you cannot go back to the person you used to be? There is no peace in that life. You may be drawn to parts of it, but there is no peace. Something is missing.
Additionally with one of my close friends, I felt the need to explain the change in me until one day I recognized it simply wasn’t their concern. What God has spoken to me about my life is the vision He has for MY life. That doesn’t include getting others on board. It simply means I am to stay true to what He has spoken in order to produce fruit.
Have any of you felt that way? You know God has spoken something to you, spoken the vision of a new you, but others won’t let you grow into that vision? Or perhaps others encourage you to grow, but you yourself are grasping to hold onto the old you? Or perhaps you are like Peter? Christ has spoken the vision for your life and although you act as if you understand, you haven’t experienced the other side of the cross to even know exactly what has been spoken to you? I understand.
I am here to tell you that it’s ok to change. Yes, I know you think you know that. But if you truly know it, then why are you fighting Him so much? Why are you fighting the pruning process? Why are you struggling to hold onto the life you know so well because you can’t imagine the life He wants to give you? You can’t imagine anything different. It’s all you know. See, I told you I understand. Today, know that it is ok to change. It’s ok to let go of you. I’m on the other side of the cross – the “before and after” and I can testify that it’s ok. Is it always easy? No. Will there be trials and tribulations in my future? Yes. Am I in for the fight of my life with the enemy? Yes. But the Bible tells us that every person that God changed through relationship stayed changed and pressed forward towards the vision He gave them. If you don’t believe me, just ask Peter. He gives a way better testimony than I.