Galatians 1:11-17 – “My Former So-Called Life”
We all have a past. Thankfully our past doesn’t always necessarily dictate our future. Or does it? Paul was used BECAUSE of his past. Yet David was used because of his past as well. So are you and I. The difference then lies in a big BUT. No, not a big BUTT but a big “however”. Your past can either be the catalyst for a monumental change in direction or it can be the reason that God chooses a specific future for you. It all hinges on a specific moment in time. I call it a big but.
God can be very specific in his choices. Paul, in our reading for today tells the Galatians that “you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.” What happens after that is the hinge point. “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, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles.”
I hope that you experience a moment in your life where that word can be used of you. “I was a drug addict… but God.” “I thought that I’d done so much wrong in my life… but God.” “I had my life all planned out… but God.” But God is a shift. It is a signpost on the road of your life marking where a change happened. Paul was a zealous Jew. He was renowned for his adherence to Jewish law. It was when God saw fit to step into his life, place the fork in the road and change the direction he was going. Paul knew the law… and so God used him to show people that Jesus made you right with God apart from the law.
David lived his life up to the point that he was called by God in a way that God chose to step in. And God changed the direction that this small shepherd’s life was taking. He could have lived the rest of his days doing that same thing… but God had something different planned. What is in your past that God wants to use? Joseph, David, Moses, all used by God to do miraculous things BECAUSE of their pasts. What part of your past, though unflattering, does God want to use for his glory? Are you living in a way that God would show up and say “I have greater things planned for you.”
Paul went on to tell the Ephesians in Eph 4:22 to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life.” We all have a “former manner of life”… a past that God is ready to redeem. The only thing standing in the way is a big but.
Father, I know you have great things planned for me. I know that from time to time you need to redirect me into the right path. Lord place the fork in my path, show me the new direction you have for my life and help me to shed deceitful desires and instead put on my new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.