I received a beautiful piece of scripture on Christmas Eve, 2017. The words were written on a white piece of paper that had been folded into a star. The star was hanging on one of several sparkling Christmas trees that dotted the space where my church was holding its last worship service for the evening.
My pastor for the past five years, Jon Ireland, spoke to those of us in attendance about how true peace is from God: a gift that the world cannot offer. Then, he invited each member of the congregation to go to a Christmas tree in the room and choose one paper ornament. We were to wait to open our chosen ornaments until everyone was back in their seats.
I stood next to my husband and our three children and held my paper star close to my heart. I prayed for whatever the message of peace might be inside, trusting that God’s gift would reveal to me exactly what I needed to hear.
When it was time, I slowly opened the star and could feel the corners of my mouth lift toward my cheeks. I couldn’t help but smile as I read the scripture from 2 Corinthians: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!
God has worked on me, for quite some time, in this area of spiritual development. I’m likely not the easiest of disciples and I have, admittedly, stayed stuck inside of personal struggle for amounts of time that I am sheepish to admit. I once was certain that my imperfections had landed me somewhere on the outer fringes of God’s grace: too flawed to be forgiven.
And, so for a time, I lived a smaller existence than what my heart desired. I settled on a life that was less than God had envisioned. I hid from my divinely created calling. Have you ever felt an aching inside of you, like you’re not really living although you know that you’re alive?
It’s that gut-wrenching sensation deep down within you that not even a promotion, an award, or a compliment can soothe. It’s as if you’re treading water in a vast sea of nothingness. Past hurts and mistakes have diminished your spirit. You just feel so small. You want to break free…but how?
How do we break free when the world continues to keep score, to judge and to condemn?
How can we stop the self-punishment that keeps us hidden beneath a cloak of shame?
The scripture held within my paper star makes the answer to this question very clear. We reveal what is hiding beneath the cloak. We, courageously, throw off the cloak and stand before God; bearing our burdens and giving those burdens to Him.
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.
I’m so grateful for this scripture. I framed those words that were waiting for me inside a simple paper star, on Christmas Eve. The frame sits on my desk and I’m looking at it, now, as I write to you.
Wherever you are, at this moment, and whatever you may be facing, understand this: we all make mistakes. We’ve all been hurt. We have felt humiliated and misunderstood. Yet, we have a way to let go of the wounds, to be cleansed from the pain and to become a new creation.
It’s the promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17. The old has gone, the new is here!
I have become new through the grace of God’s unfailing love.
I don’t look back anymore.
There’s no need to, as the old no longer exists.
And, that my precious souls, is freedom.