By Al Tucker
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV
One early winter a couple of years ago, a feral cat showed up in our shed. She was very wary and would bolt over the fence whenever we would try to get close to her. However, she would always return to get out of the elements by sleeping in the shed. We were not happy about that, but we decided to provide her refuge and then felt obligated to feed her. She was content with the arrangement, but she would always leave for parts unknown in the morning and then return in the evening. One day, she started hanging around the shed during the day and would go back in when we would take her food down to her in the morning. Then, we found out why. She had two baby kittens she was nursing. Yikes, what to do. Well, the kittens started to grow, and we began to try to find them homes, but, to no avail. We took them in, called them Jack and Timothy, and they are a fun addition to the household.
We didn’t want a repeat of more kittens, so we started to try to catch the momma cat to get her spayed. We tried everything. We tried trapping her, but she was too smart for that. As my niece said at the time, “it isn’t her first rodeo.” We even tried luring her by letting Jack and Timothy out to play with her. However, we couldn’t outsmart her; she always alluded us. Fast forward six months, I went into the shed and there she was with two more kittens. Liva went down to look at them and came back saying, “it’s worse–she has four.” This was not good. We couldn’t find homes for the first two; now she has four more. We HAVE GOT TO CATCH that cat and get her fixed. We decided when the kittens are weaned; we’ll catch her, one way or another. Well, we did, and that’s another harrowing story. However, we caught her, and off to the vet she went to be spayed. The cat needed a name, so we called her Glory.
We quickly found homes for two of the kittens and thought we might have homes for the other two. However, that didn’t pan out, so two more came indoors, Aurora Rose and Sweet William (we call him Willie). Fortunately, Jack, Timothy, Aurora, and Willie became great friends, and they love causing bedlam when they play. Last winter, Glory eventually started coming indoors at night. Whenever she comes home from her “day job” (we have no idea where she goes), she’ll come to the back porch, cry, run right in, go to her food bowl and then jump in her bed in the windowsill. After almost a year of coming indoors, she still has no trust in us and wants out into the world first thing in the morning. Other cats we have found eventually came around, their old ways passed away, and they became beautiful new creations that brought us joy.
I mentioned in my previous article that “finding Jesus is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.” Prior to that time, I lived a worldly life feeding my passions of the day, whether they were family, hobbies, career, new interests, etc. Much like Glory, most of my trust was in myself. Of course, when I was young, I trusted my parents, and I have always trusted my wife, but, trusting God really wasn’t in the picture. My life was like most of my family and friends; we were, what a pastor friend of mine calls, living a life of “rugged individualism.” “I’ve got this,” “I can handle it,” “If I need your advice, I’ll ask for it,” etc.: It’s the American way; we strive to be independent, confident, self-sufficient. I now understand that it is Satan’s way. He doesn’t want you to believe or trust in God.
Satan knows all too well, that when you truly accept Jesus as your Savior, that your old way of “rugged individualism” and everything associated with it will pass away and he will lose his influence on you. You are now what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “a new creation.” I wouldn’t be sitting here now sharing what God has laid on my heart if I were not a new creation, who has become alive in Christ.
My life as a new creation entails trusting Him in every area, all the time. I am trying to live as Proverbs 3: 5-6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” I love that warning, “do not lean on your own understanding.” I found that to be a tough nut to crack when I was saved. You really are spiritually immature at that point, well I was. Fortunately, you are not only saved by God’s gift of grace when you accept Jesus, but He sends the Holy Spirit to reside in you to guide you on the journey into His Kingdom. You must experience it to understand it!
I have found the best way to NOT lean on my own understanding is to study His Word. I quickly found I needed to do as Paul writes to the Romans (verse 12:2) “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I had a lot of worldly wisdom, but I learned that what I really needed was Godly wisdom. As I mentioned in my last article, the Bible came alive when I was saved. My Bible is no longer like that pristine, rarely opened hotel Gideon Bible, now it is wrinkled, underlined, starred, and covered in notes. I find that God speaks to me thru His Word, helping me to not only renew my mind but also in making decisions to serve Him better.
I attend a men’s Bible study group at 6:30 a.m. every Friday. We call our gatherings “Fellowship Fridays,” and it is one of the most amazing blessings in my life. We just finished studying Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. This week, we start 1, 2, and 3, John. I cannot overstate the importance of these Christian men in my life. One of them led me to salvation. They all in some capacity are mentors, and they help in me “grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). If you can find a God-focused study group, it will transform your life too. Men in our group, who have been saved much longer than me, say they cannot live without Fellowship Fridays.
Although I belong to a United Methodist Church, I love being an itinerant church attendee as I get to hear God’s word preached by ministers of all faith groups. A visiting pastor at a local men’s retreat a couple of years ago preached about his striving for a “radically, intimate relationship with Jesus.” I remember thinking, I want that too. I remember another pastor preaching about being a man of integrity and saying, “you can’t have a little bit of integrity. You either have it, or you don’t.” Likewise, “you can’t be a little bit Christian. You either are, or you are not.” Who’d of thought, I would be eager to hear so many different types of messages. Obviously, God knew, and that is why he made me a new creation. Life is so much more simple and peaceful trusting in God. Finding Jesus, all things became new for me! I cannot praise God enough for that. It is such a blessing for me to share my ‘journey with Jesus’ with you.
Back to our Glory girl, she left the house about 8 a.m. this morning to go live in her world. She’ll be back at 8 p.m. or so happy to see her babies and to enjoy the security of the house for the night. We don’t know if she’ll ever come to trust us. However, we’ll be patient and try to earn that trust. I am glad that we don’t have to earn God’s trust to live in His Kingdom. He offers it as a free gift to all those who will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, where you will become a new creation and embark on an amazing journey with Him. God bless you.
Images: ©Backyard Photography, Alan Tucker