But they were hearing only, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God in me. - Galatians 1:23-24 NKJV
If there were to be a "Top Ten" list of some of the most radically changed lives in world history, the Apostle Paul's life would definitely have my vote to be added to the list. In Galatians 1:13, Paul recounts some of his past life in his letter to the Galatians by saying
For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. (NKJV)
Yet, in spite of what Paul had formerly done, he was called by God to preach Jesus and to further the church he once so zealously tried to destroy. I can only imagine how blown away Paul must have been to be allowed to serve God in spite of his past.
We all have a past. Some of our pasts are rather normal seeming and pretty uneventful when compared to others. Others of us have lived lives we would rather forget. All of us though, have regrets and wish we could have done some things differently. However, no matter who we are or what we have done, through a relationship with Christ we have been given the power to change. Each day when we wake up we are given a new canvas to paint our lives upon. Sometimes we need to start over more than once throughout the day! And we can when we confess our faults to God and sincerely vow to start "painting" once again. I am so thankful for God's forgiveness and the fresh start He offers me every minute of every day.
Paul's life was a testament to an escape from the past. Paul learned to embrace his past mistakes and declare them as proof that a life can change through the power of God. Only God could have produced the remarkable change in Paul. When I read Paul's words from Galatians 1:24 "And they glorified God in me.", I wonder if Paul had a tear in his eye when he penned those words. I would think that he was truly humbled by the way God was using him. I know I would have been. I am humbled every day when I realize that God is using me in some small way. It is my prayer that God can be glorified in me, no matter what I have or haven't done in the past.
For Forward Thinking...
1) How can the story of Paul's changed life give you hope as to how your own life or circumstance can change for God's glory?
2) In what situation are you having difficulty believing in God's power to change it?
3) What element of your past have you not forgiven yourself for? Confess it to God right now and know that it is now behind you. You are now free to move forward.