This time of year, when the days grow shorter and darkness descends earlier, it’s good to revisit the story of the pumpkin, reposted below. (Afterwards, be sure and watch Interior Designer, Lisa Luby Ryan, tell how she finally opened the door on all of her deepest, darkest secrets, making the way for the light of God’s love and complete forgiveness to enter in. Follow it up with Rooted in TRUTH, Growing in LOVE and Listen.)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
by Liz Curtis Higgs (Reposted with permission. Original post found HERE)
When this Former Bad Girl received Christ, you can imagine what my coworkers thought when I danced out the door on a Friday afternoon shouting, “Party!” and then strolled in Monday morning saying, “Praise the Lord, I’ve been baptized!”
Did they notice? Oh, baby.
As spring turned into summer, I soared and stumbled along my new walk with Christ, watched carefully by my coworkers, who were curious about the changes they were seeing.
One October day, our receptionist asked me, “Liz, what does it mean to be a Christian?”
Uh-oh. The most important question ever. Did I have an answer at the ready? I did not. Desperately looking around for inspiration, I saw a ceramic pumpkin on display and stammered, “Oh, Alice, it’s just like being a pumpkin.”
“Really?” she asked. “What do you mean by that?”
Friend, I had no idea what I meant. After silently pleading for the Lord to make sense of my nonsense, I said, “Well, God chooses us out of the pumpkin patch of life.” Whew.
“No kidding?” Alice nodded thoughtfully. “Tell me more.”
More? Another prayer, another leap of faith. “We’re dirty, right? From being out in the field? So, God washes us on the outside. That’s like baptism. Then He pierces our thick skins with the double-edged sword of His Word so He can clean out all that icky stuff on the inside.”
Alice made a face, no doubt remembering the last time she’d plunged her hands into a warm, slimy pumpkin. Squish.
“Yuck,” I agreed. “And those slimy seeds? Bitterness and discontent can cling to our hearts just like those stubborn seeds. Thank goodness God is willing to clean us out, because He’s the only One who can.”
“Okay …” She was still listening, still taking it all in. “Then what?”
The Lord had a swift answer for both of us.
“He gives us a brand new face, Alice.”
I swallowed hard, overwhelmed by her open expression, knowing God was at work, right then and there. “He gives us eyes that see like His, without blinking or turning away. A nose to capture the fragrant aroma of His sacrifice. And a mouth that smiles with joy.”
“Then …” I blinked away tears. Oh, Alice! Do you see? “He fills us with the light of His Spirit and puts us out in a dark world to shine for Him.”
Her eyes widened. “Boy, that all makes so much sense!”
My hands shook as I reached for a pencil, wanting to write down everything God had shown us. Over the years, I shared this parable in many places, until it took on a life of its own and began spinning around the Internet. If it ever appears in your inbox, now you know the rest of the story!
What matters most is what happened next: Alice was made new.
Not long after our conversation, Alice gave her heart to God and was scrubbed clean, inside and out. Just as today’s verse tells us, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Alice’s old life wasn’t nearly as hairy and scary as mine, but she was forgiven all the same. So was I.
And those slimy seeds that represent our old sins? God has a plan for those, too. They can be sprinkled with salt, roasted to perfection and shared with others, just as we can use our past experiences to speak to loved ones who are stuck in the yuck.
Heavenly Father, when I invited You inside my dark heart, I feared my less-than-lovely past would turn You away forever. Yet, You willingly plunged Your holy hands into my unholy mess and gave me a new heart. This season and every season, Lord, help my sisters and me shine for Your glory, praying others will hear Your story. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Rooted in TRUTH: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:4-914
Growing In LOVE: When you see someone living a less than stellar life, remember who you were (and sometimes still are) apart from the life you live by faith, empowered by the Spirit. We all want others to cut us a break, not judge us harshly and show us grace. When we show grace to others, God’s light shines through us. Show grace (undeserved favor) to someone today. They may be just having a bad day OR they may be just one step away from surrender—and coming home.
Listen: One Step Away