This post is written by Leslie Hudson and is published as a companion to Unit 11, Session 5 of The Gospel Project for Adults Vol. 4 (Summer 2022): From Unity to Division.
At the time, I remember thinking that the chance encounter shook me a little more than I thought it should.
I was twenty-five-years old, married, professional, and feeling completely grown-up. I had been born and raised in one small town, but left there to go to college and never went back. I’d met my husband in college, and when he got a job an hour from my hometown, we moved there. Though it was only an hour, it felt like a lifetime away: I didn’t know anyone from my young life in this new place. I had a new last name, a new identity, and my young life seemed far, far behind me.
Recognition of My Past Self
That is, until I was walking through the lobby of my church on a Tuesday morning and heard someone call me by my maiden name. I’d left that name an hour east; who in the world would be calling me that here, now? I turned and found myself looking at a familiar face, a friend from high school. He and his wife had moved to our town, and their child was attending day care at our church. We spent two minutes catching up and went our separate ways.
But as I kept walking, I couldn’t help but think, “Am I really not her anymore? Am I truly a different person?” I sure felt it. I was so much stronger in my convictions, my faith, and my confidence. I was being discipled as a mature child of God, not a teenage girl. I was leading a women’s Bible study on Tuesday mornings, for crying out loud. But for the rest of that day, I continued to ponder the young me versus the adult me: was I really different? Was I changed as much as I’d convinced myself I had?
As a teenage girl, I had been one person—I’d left her behind as I left my hometown, and now I was most certainly different on the inside. Though I still looked enough like young me to be recognized years later, what I wanted to say to my high school friend was, “I’m not that girl any more. I’m completely different.”
Leaving Our Past Behind
That’s the same message Paul has for us in Ephesians 2: you used to be one way, but now you’re not that person any more. You never forget the past, you can’t deny it, and you likely have no desire to go back. But your history is part of who you are; now it’s your testimony. “I was one way; I met Jesus; now I’m totally different.” As Paul said, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world… We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God…” (Eph. 2:1-4).
It’s so much more than simply growing up. It’s more than losing your rebellious streak or deciding to be an adult. We’re looking at a total transformation: heart, soul, mind, and spirit. All because of God. All because of His rich mercy, all because of His great love, making us alive, saving us, raising us up (Eph. 2:4-6).
So as you consider who you were and who you are, take a moment and thank Jesus for the transformation. It was His mercy, His grace, His power, and His love that did it. You are a new person, you have been “born again.” And you will continue to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ. This is a promise as you trust in Jesus. He is making all things new, including you.
Leslie Hudson loves her mornings of silence, coffee, and Jesus; not in that order. She lives with her husband and kids in White Bluff, Tennessee, where they raise blueberries, figs, and bees. She loves to spend her free time reading, writing, journaling, and helping others know and follow Jesus.