It is very easy to change your clothes to appear different. Many people have clothing for different events and situations. We have our work clothing, our casual clothing, our dress clothing, etc. But changing your clothing does not change you. It only changes your appearance to make you more comfortable in your environment, to help you blend in, to keep you hot/cool, or to follow some dress code requirement at work or school.
In Joel we read the need to change your life. You cannot simply change the outer appearance and think you have accomplished what God was after. God wants your heart. God wants you to have a pure heart. You can easily change your clothing and attend church and think you’ve done what was required of you. Yet your heart could be without change—the outside was changed but the inside remained the same.
Today is the day to look deep within and ask yourself if there has been a change. Have you just changed clothing? Have you simply sought a “Christian” radio station and changed your appearance? Have you started to attend church every Sunday so you can say you went to church? Or have you changed? Do you see something different about yourself? Are you more joyful? Are you more hopeful? Are you more helpful? Are you nicer? Do you act with more compassion? Are you after truth? If you aren’t seeing one bit of change, chances are you have just changed your clothes.
“Change your life, not just your clothes.
Come back to God, your God.
And here’s why: God is kind and merciful.
He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
This most patient God, extravagant in love,
always ready to cancel catastrophe.”
-Joel 2:13 [MSG]
We are a people who focus on the past. When something is over, we keep replaying it in our minds. We continue to dwell on things of the past, things that we cannot change, instead of focusing on the here and now. A bad relationship. Hurtful words. Past failures. Bad decisions. It is so hard to let things go and move forward.
God’s Word states that he is “creating new heavens and a new earth” and because of this, “no one will even think about the old ones anymore.” No one will consider the old. Why? Because the new heavens and the new earth will fully satisfy so there will be no want of the old.
God is already making things new. As you continue to give your life to him, you will find that he is making you new. The more you grow in him, the more you will stop thinking about the old you and the things of old. You will find yourself fully satisfied with the new. God is making all things new. Amen!
“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.” – Isaiah 65:17 [NLT]
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” – Lamentations 3:23 [NLT]
When I take my morning walk I usually catch the same neighbor in the middle of washing or drying his car, depending on when I pass his home. I’m sure anyone would agree that right after you get your car washed and shined up, something happens to get it dirty. In our area we have a local company that continues to spread dust as the big work trucks drive past. The pollen and the birds add to the many reasons that a washed car doesn’t stay clean.
So each morning this man gets out and washes his car, taking special care to ensure it is dry and looking like it just was pulled off the car dealership lot. It reminds me how each new morning is a blessing for us, another opportunity to start over. His mercies are new every morning. No matter how dirty, how defeated, how drained we may have felt the day prior, in the morning, we are given another day full of His mercy, His grace, His faithfulness.
These past few months have been a challenge for so many people. There are days when the struggles bring a feeling of defeat. But remember that God is not finished and He is faithful. Every morning His mercies are new. We may be down, but we won’t be down forever. We may feel defeated, but we won’t always be defeated. We may be tired, but with Christ, we have rest.
I have a problem with clothing. It seems no matter how hard I try, I am always staining my shirts. As a result, I typically do not purchase clothing that is white. Who wants to have a shirt that so easily shows every mistake? Nonetheless, I wanted this one shirt and it only came in the color white.
It only took a few wears and the incident occurred. I was out in the rain and my red hooded sweatshirt bled into the collar of my white shirt. I did not even realize it was happening until it was too late. Now though I was not wanting to purchase a white shirt in the first place, I was now trying my hardest to make this shirt white again. I scrubbed it with bleach. I got out my stain removal stick. I used peroxide. I tried every trick I could think of and I even resorted to searching online for other options.
In the end, I could not repair the damage done to my shirt. The only thing I could do was to change the color of the shirt to adapt to this new color that was found on the collar. There was no other option for me, and so I made the change and my shirt is as good as new.
This incident reminded me of sin and how it invades our life, even at times when we don’t realize it. It reminded me of how only through Christ and His blood are we able to be clean. We can try every stain remover, but nothing will remove the damage of our sins but Christ who cleanses us so that we are as white as snow.
This episode also got me thinking about how we are so stubborn to change. There are times when God is moving us in one direction, but we dig our feet into the ground and stand firm in our position. We think we know best. As I worked so hard to have my shirt stay white (which I never wanted in the first place), the shirt ended up being pink. Perhaps pink is the better color.
It took so long for me to fight the color change. I thought I knew best. God knows best. God’s plan for my life and for your life is the best plan. We can avoid the white shirt because we don’t wish to go down that path, but He can make that the only option. We can try to work for our salvation or sidestep through each and every sin, but only Christ can cleanse us and bring us true salvation. We can fight every twist and turn, but in the end, if God wants the shirt to be pink, it’s going to be pink.
When we accept God and His grace into our lives, and when we stop fighting and reach out our hands and say, “Here I am,” it is then that we can achieve true peace. Today I rejoice that I have a pink shirt– a shirt made new– because I know that God is making me new.
“Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” – Ephesians 4:24 [NASB]