Paul is the author to some of my favorite scriptures in the Bible. One of those being Romans 7:15, “I don’t really understand myself for what I want to do is right, but I don’t do it….”. Wow. It’s like even 2000 years ago people were going through basically the same things we go through today which only confirms another scripture found in the Bible Ecclesiastes 1:9 “there’s nothing new under the sun.”
I think about Paul and how awkward he must’ve felt in the Christian circles he was running in. Not everybody was mature as he was, surely there were some raised eyebrows and sighs of contention all due to his presence. Little kids staring at him because they heard their parents say that he was the murderer that had found Jesus. People are funny that way, always wanting to remember someone for who they were not who they’re becoming, but Paul was in all actuality an ex-murderer it’s true. I wondered how he dealt with that? The grief that he felt knowing that he had taken innocent lives, ministering to the people he had once brought charges against. I wonder sometimes if He thought about the pleas of the Christians he executed? How he once considered their words heresy, now he knew them as truth. How can you deal with that: When your wrong, and you know your wrong, and everybody knows your wrong, but Jesus still uses you? Was Paul able to erase those faces from his memory? Within a few moments of his life he went from terrorist to evangelist. A lot of areas in my life resemble Paul’s.
In my life I have always tried to do the right thing. Ever since the 7th grade when I stood up to Big Antoine because he was picking on a smaller kid. I dedicated myself to always going right when others went left. Looking at my life now I wonder what was all that good for? It has not made a significant difference in my life at all. I think in my younger days I had the idea that good was some sort of currency that I could bank on. Now here I am 13 years later ready to make withdrawals only to find “insufficient funds” stamped all over different areas of my life. In my anger I lash out. People far and wide know about my anger issues. Some have suffered directly, others indirectly, and no matter how much good that I think I do, it always seems as if my shortcomings precede me, and are put on display in the back of people’s minds. I think this is where Paul and I are similar. Men with treacherous pasts rescued by grace and made new, but the difference is Paul really believed he was made new, not me I struggle with that.
I think about those 2 words: made new. I realize you can’t make something new if you are still looking back at the old. (Please understand that I’m talking to myself hear as well.) You can’t really make something new with old materials that would just be making a new design not making something new. The design may work for awhile but eventually the materials will give way. To truly make something new, you got to strip it down and start from scratch. Just like Paul was stripped down, knocked off his ride and blinded. Where he was headed no longer matter, what he was doing, no longer matter, all that mattered to Paul was finding out what just happened to him, and not only that but Who happened to him? The journey to scratch is always drastic, because it’s where we really realize who we are and who God is. Only from scratch. God doesn’t want to take our old and make it better, He wants to take our old and destroy it. When God builds someone up there is no denying it regardless of what the past looks like. That’s why those people could talk about Paul all they wanted and those kids could stare but nobody could deny the Lord was at work in His life. What a testimony for God when we can tell the world, “this righteousness is not my own, this love that I can give is not my own, this grace that has been displayed in my life is not my own, but all this was made possible by Jesus.” Paul stated several times throughout the epistles in different context that he was a major sinner but he had been rescued. Paul didn’t have to convince anyone of anything he used to be a murderer but he had been saved by grace and that grace was all that mattered.
Paul actually makes me feel like a wussy now that I’m at the end of this blog. I mean the man was a murderer but had no problem believing he had been saved by God. I’ve never killed anything except for the occasional spiders and mosquitoes and here I am struggling with the thought of being saved by grace. It all starts with belief. We’re never out of God’s reach. We’re never too far gone. All we have to do is believe, and be prepared to start from scratch.