Before & After: The Amazing Power of Our Transforming God

I love transformations. Before and after pics get me excited. Makeup, hair, gardening, home improvement-you name it! I love seeing anything go from outdated or just plain messed up to new and improved.

While current hairdos and updated kitchens are great, I like transformations in people the best. Why? because I’m one of them. Keep reading to find out more…

Recently I had the privilege of witnessing a friend get baptized at the beach. Baptism is a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. My friend chose to be baptized to outwardly express what has personally happened in her heart. As she was under the water, she was symbolically buried with Christ, and when she was raised up out of the water it symbolically proclaimed her newness of life in Christ. You might say she is a walking, talking, and breathing before & after picture. I was baptized almost 20 years ago, and I can personally affirm that her life will never be the same. You might say she is new and improved!

Before

   Last year we updated our kitchen. The cracked countertops, the dirty tile floors, and the rusty-hinged cabinets were replaced. The transformation was stunning. The transformation in a heart that is turned toward Jesus Christ is stunning too.

When Christ enters a surrendered heart, things like self-centeredness, an “I can do whatever feels good” mentality, no self-worth, jealousy, hatred, and bitterness all lessen in a life. Notice that I wrote “lessen” and not “go away’. Why? Because every Believer is perfectly imperfect and will stray from God’s will and Truth from time to time.

A Pinball Life

In the game room of our cabin, you’ll find a Lord of the Rings-themed pinball machine. My husband plays the game to unwind in the evening and is on a mission to beat his high score. It’s not unusual for me to hear him muttering, Gandolf screaming “You shall not pass!”, and the cling, cling clinging as the pinball bounces off the game’s flippers.

When I think of my life before I was baptized, I think of it as an out-of-control ricocheting pinball bouncing through life with no intention or direction.

The “before” me had very little self-worth. According to the American Psychological Association, self-worth can be defined as “an individual’s evaluation of himself or herself as a valuable, capable human being deserving of respect and consideration.” While I’m not sure where or why this lack of self-worth settled upon me the fact remains that I had next to none.

Because of this lack of value and respect for myself, I behaved like a person with no purpose, intention, or belief in themselves would. I “bounced” off one event to the next with no understanding that I was valuable, uniquely made, utterly loved, and deserving of respect.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a lack of self-worth, an addiction, or operating with no moral compass, a life without the amazing power of God’s transformation is not a life that any of us was meant to be living.

After

I have tattoos on both my inner arms. Three out of the five are there to remind me of what God says to me and about me. My first (and favorite) tattoo is of an opened bird cage with a bird flying above it and the words “free indeed” tattooed below it (John 8:36). When I look at it, I’m reminded that I’m living proof that the Lord is an expert at transforming lives and that the He has set me free from so many things that had me in bondage.

An “after” life with God in it is a life:

  • Filled with purpose

It’s knowing that there is more to life than waking up and going through the motions. It’s a life filled with intentional assignments such as telling others what the Lord has done for you. It’s also about being kind, generous, hospitable, and being a light to others.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” 

Eph. 2:10 ESV

  • With a God-centered identity

It’s knowing that you are a child of God and that you belong to Him. While you may feel abandoned by family or friends you will NEVER be abandoned by God.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 NLT

  • That is forgiven

It’s knowing that your sins and mistakes have been forgiven and will never be brought up again. While we may not be able to erase our mistakes from another person’s memory, God has amnesia and has permanently forgotten our sins.

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Ps. 103:12 NLT

  • Filled with perfect love 

It’s knowing that our heavenly Father loves us with an everlasting and perfect love that can never be withheld or taken away. While some people’s love may be conditional (“I will love you if ____.”), God’s love is unconditional (“I will love you no matter what!”).

“For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.” Ps 103:11 NLT

  • Free of shame

It’s knowing that you can walk with your head held high and that, because you are a new creation, and you never need to feel ashamed.  Why? Because you are not your past mistakes.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth.”

Isaiah 54:4 ESV

  • Pursuing righteousness

It’s knowing that because we are changed (new and improved!) we feel compelled, out of love for our Father, to conduct our life in an *upstanding manner with moral standards that reflect our new relationship with Him.

*Because no one is perfect we won’t always get this right!

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” NIV

  • That’s not based on performance or striving

God knows we are imperfect. Being good and doing good “works” is not our sole assignment in life. Yes, God absolutely wants us to walk upright and exhibit love and kindness to others like He did, but more than anything God wants our hearts to be turned to and surrendered to Him. His Word tells us “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” Romans 3:23 NLT. God wants our heart, not perfection.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

2 Cor 12:9 NIV

  • Of belonging

We matter because we belong to the Creator of the universe. The fact that we belong to God also gives us a place in the family with other believers. We may feel left out of groups, organizations, and cliques, but we will always belong in the family of God.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3: 1 ESV

  • With a forever Father

When you’re transformed by God and brought into His family you have a Father who will be with you always. He’s a Father who loves to give you good gifts. He’s not a harsh disciplinarian who never lets his kids enjoy life. He doesn’t only want us to go to church more, pray more, or give more time and money. Nope! That’s not the heart of our heavenly Father. He’s the creator of joy, of pleasure, of happiness, of good gifts, and so much more! 

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b NIV

Living Differently is Living Better

I grew up when ice milk was a thing. Anyone else remember this less-than-satisfying treat? It’s actually still around. It’s called low-fat ice cream now (contains under 10% butterfat).

When I think of my life before being transformed by God I think of ice milk. Let me explain.

When I was little, our local milkman (I think his name was Jim) would stop by each week to deliver glass bottles of milk and pick up our empty ones. Before my mom could answer his knock at the door, my little sister and I would beat her to it and place an order for vanilla ice cream. What we thought was ice cream was really ice milk. 

Ice milk was predominantly made of sugar, nonfat milk powder, air, and a slight amount of artificial vanilla. Because we didn’t know any better, we thought it was delicious. Same goes for my life before Jesus. Even though it was filled with purposelessness (is this even a word?) and struggles I didn’t know there was anything better.

Now for the good part…fast forward to college when I had my first taste of Edy’s classic vanilla bean ice cream.  Whoa! It wasn’t like any ice cream I had ever had before. It was made with only the best ingredients: real cream, crushed vanilla beans, and corn syrup-yum! There was no comparison!  Ice milk-ugh! I couldn’t believe what I had been missing my whole life.

While the ice cream analogy may be a weak one, I hope you get my point. Until you experience a relationship with God you won’t know what living really is. Life without Him is a cheap imitation. Living differently (and set apart) is living better.

New and Improved

People cannot dismiss the power of a changed life. As you begin your “after” journey of a life with Jesus there will, unfortunately, be some people who will bring up your past and be skeptical of any transformation that has taken place. You may be labeled a fake, a fraud, a weirdo, or even a cop out. But their opinions don’t matter. You know who you are and God knows who you are and that’s all that matters.

Recently, I was contemplating before-and-after transformations of a surrendered heart and the love God has for us. I came across a devotional with scripture from the book of Zephaniah that helped me get a glimpse into God’s heart toward us.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

Sometimes breaking down scripture sentence by sentence and meditating on each one’s meaning helps me to “ingest” its meaning better. This is what I came up with when I read this scripture:

The LORD your God is in your midst.

God is not far off. He’s not on vacation taking a break. He is not too busy to fit you in His schedule. He is right beside you. When you give your heart to God, His presence (the Holy Spirit) is in you. He.is.in.your.midst.

A Mighty One who will save.

The Almighty God has come for you, by the sacrifice of His Son, you now have nothing to fear. Salvation is yours in Him. You.are.a.child.of.God.and.always.will.be.

He will rejoice over you with gladness.

Unfortunately, the world does a pretty darn good job of making us think that we are nothing or that we’re inconsequential. The enemy (Satan) has a way of constantly pointing out things that we do wrong. He tells us that we aren’t lovable and aren’t worth it.  He’s wrong. God believes that we are worth the death of His beloved Son. We can never change His mind about that! He delights in us. He.rejoices.over.us.

He will quiet you with His love.

Life can be stressful. He longs to bring peace to the stress and worry we all experience. We have God’s peace available to us anytime we ask for it. It’s His promise to us. God can handle any care or concern we bring to Him. Nothing is too difficult for Him. He.will.quiet.us.with.His. love.

He will exult over you with loud singing. 

To exalt means to show triumphant elation or jubilation-especially when it comes to a success. Despite all of our mistakes and missteps it makes me smile to know that God thinks we are a success. He.is.proud.of.us. We are His children and He exalts over that fact with loud singing.

Before I go, here are a few “assignments” and questions for you:

  1. Ask God how he feels about you. Quiet yourself and listen to His answer.

He brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6), and His thoughts toward you are countless — like the grains of sand on the shore (Psalm 139:17-18).

  1. Choose one of the scriptures cited in this blog and allow it to go deeper into your heart.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

  1. Meditate on who you are as a child of God.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

  1. Meditate on the truth that you were made for a relationship with God and that He has an unconditional love for you.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Jeremiah 31:3

  1. Be brave (like the woman in the scripture below) and reach out to someone that you see has gone through a transformation and ask them to tell you their story.

“Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me? John 8:43-48

  1. Do you sense God tugging at your heart? Are you willing to let Him transform you into the person you were meant to be? Say “yes” to God and let Him transform you. 

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20 KJV

Thanks for taking the time to read my words! Got more questions about my transformed life? Feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to share more of my story.

xoxo

P.S.

Music has such a way of ministering to me when I’m feeling oppressed by the lies of the enemy, when I’m anxious, or when people bring up my past or highlight my mistakes. Here are a few of my favorite songs that remind me of what Jesus has done in my life. I thought maybe you’d like them too.

Thank God I Do by Lauren Daigle

My Jesus by Anne Wilson

Remember by Lauren Daigle

Mercy by Chris Brown and Elevation Music

In Christ Alone by New Life Worship

 

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1 thought on “Before & After: The Amazing Power of Our Transforming God”

  1. What a wonderful blog Lynn! I’m so thankful for my transformation in Christ. I’m also thankful my ‘after’ no longer resembles my ‘before’ (although I am still a ‘work-in- process’)! Also, I really appreciate the ‘steps’ you outline and the scripture with each!

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