Have you ever known something to be true, even had a pretty good grasp on it, but then watched helplessly as it slipped away with the slightest breeze, like a balloon from a child’s hand?
That’s how I felt about my identity in Christ.
I knew I shouldn’t be so fragile.
I knew that being in Jesus should ground me, make me heartier, and more resilient. But it didn’t.
I knew my sins were forgiven, yet I still wrestled with shame, as if I’d been tarred in it.
I wanted to grab hold of the truth once and for all—that Jesus bore my sin and shame, so I didn’t have to—to make that truth go down deep into the marrow of my bones where I no longer had to fight to believe it, where it was just part of who I am. But I couldn’t.
Then, one day, what I could not seem to grab hold of grabbed hold of me.
It happened in my study of Max Lucado’s, The Gospel of John, page 96.
How can a few poetic verses cut new channels in a brain, like streams of water in the wilderness, and even break stubborn dams in a soul? I don’t know, but like a flood, Lucado’s words washed out garbage in my mind, along with a stench I had grown accustomed to. Something new and clean flowed in me, and over me.
I had been looking at myself from earth’s vantage point, rather than Heaven’s.
Max Lucado turned the telescope around for me. I was holding it the wrong way. He transported me to Heaven, where he describes our entry into a party where we are eagerly awaited, where we will become, not just better people, but “just like Jesus.”
“Your heart will be pure, your words will be like jewels, your thought will be like treasures. You will be just like Jesus. You will, at long last, have a heart like his,” Max Lucado writes (The Gospel of John, p. 96).
I feel even now as if I am being born again. Again.
What I finally understand is that I don’t just have the potential to be what God imagined when He designed me; I already am that person. Or, to put it another way, I’m as good as transformed into that person.
How can this be?
Because God said I would be.
Because He paid the price to make it happen.
Because He has deposited His own Spirit in me, the downpayment on my soul.
It’s almost too good to be true, but isn’t everything about God?
This is why God says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” He knows what we already are: the righteousness of God in Christ (II Cor. 5:21)
This is grace—grace too big to wrap our minds around, too big to wrap even a universe around. It fills a chasm that yawns as wide as the East is from the West. It swallows whole our uglies, our selfish ambitions, our wounding words, our murderous thoughts.
That gap we once tried to fill with our own “righteousness”—righteous that stunk like a sewer—God filled up with pure and living water, Jesus Himself, grace in the flesh.
We were Gomer—not just ingrates, but treacherous, back-stabbing adulterers.
But now we are dressed in pure white and crowned with righteousness we did nothing to earn, making our way down the aisle to Jesus, the Bridegroom who awaits us, smiling in joyous anticipation of our arrival. He wants us. He always has.
Heaven will be the ultimate destination wedding.
The only way He could have us was by doing for us what we could never in a million years do for ourselves: wash away our sins.
It truly is finished. This is good news.
That day I read Max Lucado’s poetic passage, my imagination was captured, my mind baptized anew with truth, and an amazing thing began to happen. As I realized who I already was—that this transformation in me was as good as done in Heaven—I understood, too, that I had the power to be that woman Jesus saw me as right now, right here, on this planet.
Because the Spirit who will have transformed me into the very likeness of Jesus the moment I arrive to Heaven already lives in me, I have the power to choose what is good, to believe God, to resist temptation, and to live a lavishly generous life…right now.
As a man [or a woman] thinks, so he [or she] is.
These truths silence the Accuser of our souls. They scrub away shame, even when it sticks like tar.
They set us free to be who we truly already are in the mind of God.
*Book of John: When God Became Man. Life Lessons with Max Lucado. Thomas Nelson, 2006.