Therefore, If Anyone Is In Christ, He Is A New Creation; The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come!
It had been hectic in my home for a few days and there was precious little peace and quiet so that evening I told my daughter, “I’m going out to Ilanot Botanical Garden to walk with Jesus and be with Him in solitude. I don’t know which account to write next and I am hoping He will reveal it to me. If I can find some silence in which to pray I may be better able to hear Him.” So I hopped in my car and headed to the nearby park.
It was late afternoon and the sun was low in the sky as I walked along the quiet paths between the large trees and sculpted rose garden. We had the entire park to ourselves -just the Lord and me! I lifted my heart and mind to Him and walked along quietly in His Presence joyful to be with Him alone and in peace. Often times, I saw elderly married couples sauntering along these paths gazing at the trees, foliage and blossoms. They meandered the paths quietly, totally at ease and comfortable in each other’s presence without having to say a word, enjoying being together in connected silence while soaking in the beauty and tranquility of the vast garden. Jesus and I were like that together on that particular afternoon. Strolling past a large tree, of a species of which I did not recognize, my eye caught sight of its lovely little red wispy fan-like blossoms. I stopped and observed them carefully. I had never seen these types of flowers before. Each one was God’s majestic masterpiece of tiny created beauty – rich red color, delicate blossom of wispy petals, grouped in little bunches – perfect in color, form, symmetry, unity and harmony.
“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one;
The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows for our play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day;
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.”
Seeing these species of flowers for the first time I experienced right then in the Holy Spirit an intense joy like that of a little child who discovers something precious and beautiful for the first time and is struck with awe and wonder. I was filled with jubilant delight and wonder at God’s marvelous creation as one who is suddenly reborn and sees the world through a new set of eyes.
Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3).
And in that precise moment, Jesus revealed to me what He would have me share next with you! In an instant, He brought back to my mind a most awesome event – the precious moment of the conversion of a soul – whom He was calling to Himself and for whom He blessed me to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in her rebirth.
Ten years earlier, when I was still living in America and my children were young, my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher was a lovely lady named Linda from Sweden. Linda and I had the usual periodic professional contact during the school year about my daughter’s academic progress and from time to time some general social conversation but we did not share any personal dialogue about matters of faith. I did not know whether Linda practiced any religion or any thing at all about her spiritual life.
One day towards the end of the school year, I asked Linda if she would fill out a letter of recommendation for my daughter as we were applying for her to attend a private school in Philadelphia for her first grade. I handed the form to Linda at school one day and asked her to mail it back to me, or bring it back to the school and I would pick it up there when I came to take my daughter home. Some days passed and during this time my husband left for a business trip to Europe. About seven o’clock in the evening the phone rang and it was Linda who surprised me when she said, “I would like to come by your house tonight and drop off the recommendation.” I responded by telling her that it was not necessary for her to make the long drive from her home to my house to bring the letter in person as she lived an another town quite a distance from us. I told her that she could simply mail the letter or I could pick it up at the school the next day, but for her please not to make a special effort or go out of her way, as it was not urgent that I have it tonight! But she insisted. I thought it was most odd to make such an effort for this little task but I welcomed her to come over since her mind was firmly made up about it. It was evening and my daughters had been fed and were upstairs in their rooms playing before bed when Linda arrived at my home. It seemed an odd hour of night for a teacher to drop by spontaneously to someone’s home. Yet, since my husband was away, I had time to spend with Linda should she want to stay for a little while. I heard the knock on the door and welcomed her in, and she came right into the kitchen and set the letter down on the kitchen counter, not even handing it to me or mentioning anything about it. How peculiar I thought.
We greeted each other and I invited her to sit down on the kitchen stool at the center island. She seemed interested in hanging around. I told her my husband was away and that I had not planned a fancy dinner just for myself so I invited her to join me for a glass of wine and slice of pizza. Linda accepted gladly and we began to strike up a conversation together. We had been speaking together for only a few moments when Linda suddenly blurted out that she “had to come here tonight”. I didn’t know what she meant. She then began to share openly about some truly remarkable spiritual happenings that she had recently experienced in her home. I was amazed to learn that she had come this night to see me under the pretext of dropping off the letter as she was hoping to find answers and guidance as to what she must do. She began to tell me her story. She told me that she had seen with her eyes some frightening dark figures appear to her in her home and in her bedroom, while she was awake, and she believed them to be demonic entities of some sort. They appeared suddenly “out of thin air” and manifested as dark human-like apparitions. She was very much scared when this occurred. One had happened only as recently as the night before she came to my home.
She came seeking spiritual help from me. I presumed that she must have not had anyone to whom she felt she could speak about such mysterious and unnerving things. She knew that I was passionate about my Christian faith and this was enough for her to turn to me, someone she didn’t know well, in the hope of gaining understanding and obtaining help. I discerned that the Lord had brought her to my door that night so that I could witness the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus and make known to her His power to deliver her from evil and give her His gift of salvation if she would turn to Him in simple childlike trust and faith. Linda continued to share her life story with me and I discovered that her own mother in Sweden was involved with the occult and witchery as she was growing up. Linda, as a small girl, had a hunger for holy things and a yearning to be within the life of the Church, but her mother prevented this and blocked all her desires and efforts to go to Church and learn about Jesus Christ and hear the gospel of salvation. Her mother hated the Church and Christianity and thus, Linda grew up in this hostile environment to Jesus Christ and His holy doctrine guarded in the Church.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned but whoever does not believe has already been condemned because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works may not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” (John 3:16-21)
Linda heart-wrenchingly shared with me the pain and guilt she carried over some specific mortal sins she committed during her life as a result of her unfortunate upbringing. Convicted by promptings of the Holy Spirit Linda was full of remorse and contrition for these sins which weighed deeply on her conscience like heavy sand bags preventing her from feeling the freedom and joy of the children of God. She did not know of the merciful forgiving love of God, who in Jesus Christ, died for her to take away her sins and reconcile her the Father.
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever He wishes. Nor does the Father judge anyone, but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Amen, Amen I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the One who sent Me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.” ( John 5 21-24)
Linda talked and talked about her difficult life and I listened intently until it was time to put my small children to bed. I knew then without a doubt that Jesus had led Linda to my home that night to hear the Gospel of her salvation. I went upstairs and got the Bible, and opened it to the Gospel of Saint John. I handed the book to Linda and told her to begin reading the gospel slowly and attentively while I was helping my daughters fall asleep, as it would take some time. I would need to get them ready for bed and we always said prayers and had other nice bedtime rituals. I told her to read prayerfully and open her heart fully to the Holy Spirit as He loves and cares for her. I left her reading and after a long time I returned and sensed that something had changed in the room and in her. I sat down again next to her on the stool at the kitchen island table. Her face was different. She was serene and had a lovely look on her face. She exuded peace. I thought I saw even that she had a radiance about her face. I asked her how she was doing and she told me that all her life she was longing for God and she had now found Him right there in my kitchen. She had “heard” the Word of Truth and she believed immediately as she was reading and was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was His own, but His own people did not accept Him. But to those who did accept Him He gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in His name,
who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.
John testified to Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘The One who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because He existed before me.'” From His fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed Him.( John 1:1-17)
Surely, she would have been exposed to intense demonic influences and evil activity in such a home environment where her own mother was a practitioner of the occult and enmeshed in the kingdom of darkness. Linda had been blocked by her mother from going to church to hear the Word of Life – the Gospel of the Salvation of Jesus Christ – and she was also prevented from receiving the Sacraments (i.e. Holy Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Holy Communion) of the Church which Christ left us to enable us become one with Him and remain in His grace and to strengthen us to live lives of holiness and resist the temptations and attacks of the Evil One.
Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you after you have suffered a little. (1st Peter 5:8-10)
It was after Midnight and Linda was ready to go home, full of hope and joy having received the gift of faith as she assented to the Truth presented to her in the Gospel. She was not alone. The Lord was with her. The next day she called me, and told me that as she walked out of her home that morning, having slept “like a baby” in complete peace in the arms of her new Lord without any disturbance during the night from the enemy of souls, she “saw the world in a totally new light”. She told me that it was as if she had a new set of eyes, as if she had been reborn as a new person with a new life seeing the world around her with new eyes full of light. Deep awe and profound wonder flowed from her transformed heart now filled with hope and joy, faith in, love for and thanksgiving to her Almighty God: Father of Creation, His Only, Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the World and the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier and Comforter.
Every ray of sun, every cloud in the sky, all the leaves on the trees, the tiny flowers in the garden, the lush green grass, the singing birds, the faces of the people in the cars as she passed by, the smiles on the faces of the children at school, the sights and sounds of life all around she told me she now saw and heard through the experience of this new gift of faith. Forgetting herself entirely, she was lost in childlike wonder and awe of her good, loving, forgiving, God, who created her, redeemed her, and upholds her. Jubilant acclamations of thanksgiving arose from deep in her heart. Her profound wonder and awe over her newfound redemption produced a wellspring of praise to her Lord and she called me in such an elated state to share her immense joy with me. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, and thank You that You have allowed me to share in Your work of redemption and to witness Your transformation of a life.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28: 19-20)
A short while later, I was invited to witness Linda’s Baptism.
Jesus… said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.
What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old things have passed away, behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the ministry of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, He made Him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. ( 2nd Corinthians 5: 17-21)