I became a believer late in life Ė after the age of forty. Since then I have often thought of the years before I met Jesus. Now that I know what a full life is, I often think of the pre-Jesus time as the wasted years. You may have years in your past like that. Mine were the years when I lived only for myself. Even when I helped others and did good things, the life I lived was ultimately for me. In my work and my recreation, I behaved in ways that were selfish and self-centered. While perfectly understandable and natural in the minds of most of my contemporaries, my actions were defiantly against Godís word.
After meeting Jesus and experiencing his loving grace, I was ashamed of who I had been. With the experience of his forgiveness and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, I began to see life in a new way. My understanding changed. The Spiritís wisdom began to pierce the darkness of my worldly consciousness. I looked back at the woman I had been and thought about the shameful life I led. I couldnít help but think that Jesus was ashamed of those years too. It seems that I was still thinking selfishly, hiding where I had been.
What if all those years were not really wasted? As shameful as they were, what if they are usable experience that is of benefit to someone else. I may be able to speak to a young woman in that shameful place when others canít. I can tell her that there is hope and there is a way out of that empty way of life. I can assure her that there is more to life than she has ever imagined.
Jesus said that the thief, who was in control of my wasted years, came only to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly. (adapted from John 10:10)
I know now that Jesus not only redeemed my life and my future, he redeemed those empty, useless years. Jesus is not ashamed of my past. Even when I didnít know him, he knew me and was preparing me for a future lived for him. As I let go of the shame of a wasted life, he shows me where I can reach out to others who need to know of his love and forgiveness. This is the abundant life that each of us can have, whether it begins at the age of twenty or forty or eighty.
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