Sometimes I think back and cringe at the mischievous lifestyle I lived before God’s sovereign work in my life. I am not talking about a pencil I stole from my classroom neighbor in grammar school, but the type of sins that cause you to wonder what you would now say to a certain person if you ever were to meet them unexpectedly in a public setting. Though the guilt is gone and my sins are forgiven, there dwells a subconscious desire to strive to avoid certain persons. However, one cannot always retain the names and faces of those people and maintain at all time a perpetual alertness. Furthermore, these mischievous memories lie dormant until that day you round the corner into blue world at Target and see this sort of person standing by the bar-stools on aisle 5. It is of course a blessing generally to face the music and spin the conversation about how Christ has changed you, however, some past occurrences are never settled in a Hallmark fashion.
In Galatians 1 Paul tells us:
“But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me…” (1:15-16)
God set Paul apart before he was born. Later in life he called him by his grace and saved him. However, in between those two points God allowed Paul to be a murderer. God allowed Paul to imprison Christians and persecute the church of God. This period of Paul’s past is what later led him to label himself the “chief of sinners,” yet one who bears this label is ripe for the message of the Gospel. Jesus came for the “sick,” not the healthy. When our past mischief rekindles, let us find comfort and confidence in the life, the purpose, and providence of God in Paul’s life pre- and post- second birth.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:4-10)