The caterpillar inches along the leaf, devouring it methodically. We stare at it wide-eyed, marveling at its persistence, jaws chomping unceasingly. I hold back a shudder as its squishy body moves forward to the next bite.
Spring has sprung in a mighty way here on the homestead. Last year was all dryness and drought, fire and devastation. But the rains came in November… they came and came and renewal is all around. It’s as if creation is making up for lost time. The air is filled with the fragrance of abundant wildflowers.
New life is pressing out with a passion, from what seemed dead.
I look at that hungry caterpillar and see it too. In all that hunger and wriggliness I see a promise for the future, a promise of new life. And I see my old self.
Here is the amazing thing… through His sinless death on the cross, Jesus has reconciled us to God. Through Jesus we have a new life in eternity with our Holy God.
And that would have been enough, more than enough.
But because we are so abundantly blessed and so lavishly loved by the Lord, we have not only been given eternal life but also the gift of new lives here and now.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Cor 5:17
You see, God wants to take our ugly caterpillar selves and mold us and shape us into something beautiful, something soaring and lovely, for His good pleasure. Right now. Today.
How? The scriptures tell us that He does this through the renewing of our minds.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
If we choose to “take captive every thought to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:5), God takes our wrong thinking, and over and over renews it.
And as our thinking, our minds, are renewed… we are transformed. Our thinking changes, and so our choices change.
This is not passive. Yes, it is God who renews, but we must choose to allow Him to. And we choose to reflect our new thinking in our behavior.
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
The Greek verbs for put off and put on in Ephesians 4:22-24 are active. The old self is not just being taken off for us. We participate, we make the choice to walk in newness of life.
We choose to put off the old self, and put on the new, in His strength and power.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7
Colossians 3:1-17 goes into detail about what we put off from the old self… impurity, anger, lies and so much more. And what we put on in the new self…
…compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:12-15
We do not depart… we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col 3:16).
And we become new creations.
I don’t want to be trapped in a caterpillar soul, inching my way toward eternity.
I choose to put off my old self and put on my new self, by allowing God to transform me by the renewing of my mind. I choose to accept the newness He wishes to mold in me.
I choose to soar in my new life in Him!
Have you seen transformation in your life as the Lord has renewed your thinking?
In what areas do you find yourself especially challenged to take off the old self and put on the new?