Redeemed (I’m Not Who I Used to Be)

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

I’m sitting in my parked car overlooking the Pacific listening, not to the thunder of waves but to the heart-piercing message of a song. I listen and I write. I’ve put the CD player on “Repeat” to let the words sink deep. Redeemed. New. Free. I listen to the words over and over. Thirty times … fifty times. I need these words. Redeemed. New. Free. Free from who I used to be. Free to live differently from how I used to live. Free to personally access the richness Jesus brings.

Since last week when I first heard the song, Redeemed, the Lord has been showing me how shallow is my grasp of freedom. It’s just a song – but what a song. It brings tears to my eyes; its words stir up an aching kind of longing. Mike Weaver (of Big Daddy Weave) seems to have read my heart before he wrote the words to this song. (You’ll find a link to it below.)

I listen, again and again, to phrases that stir deep inner hurts and hungers: haunted by ghosts that lived in my past … shackled … a prisoner … bound by heavy chains. I soak in promises that beckon me to freedom: I don’t have to be the old man inside of me … You set me free … I’m not who I used to be. He’s telling me that I’m a prisoner no more.

Some Prisoners Never Go to Jail
I spend part of my week talking with ex-cons. They’re now physically free but often struggling to learn personal freedom. So we talk. We talk about the new creation that springs into being when Christ enters their life and the transformation that takes place at that moment. As they start to believe that they – the person inside – are altogether different from who they used to be. I watch them change. They move beyond physical freedom to personal freedom, internal freedom – new thoughts, new feelings, and new attitudes towards self. And that freedom shows in the way they live. What a blessing.

But these “real” ex-cons aren’t the only prisoners in society. I also am an “ex-con” with a shackled past who sometimes still feels like a prisoner. I believe these truths I tell others – I really do – and in many ways I live them out. But then the Lord used a song to show me that I at times still behave like I’m incarcerated. Restrained. Shackled to ghosts with whom I identify, ghosts with names like Outsider, Disqualified, and Intruder. I’ve learned internal freedom, but often still feel like it’s wrong for me to act on it. I’m certain it’s okay to be new but don’t always feel like it’s okay to show it.

In chapter 14 of his children’s novel, Gaal the Conqueror, John White describes two prisoners caged behind bars that seem like solid steel. I say “seem” because the bars disappear into nothingness when the prisoners simply dare to walk through them. The bars are illusions. Dare I hope that my bars are also illusions? That the ghosts who imprison me have no power to restrain me? That I, a new creation in Christ, am free not only to be new but also to walk in newness of life? Does the Lord want me risk walking through my bars? Of course. That’s why He showed me this song.

Thank you, Lord, for a song that’s opening my eyes to yet untasted freedoms. (And thanks also to the friend who played me this song. You know who you are.)

Do you still feel like a prisoner of your past?
If so, are you willing to walk out of your cell?
Do you believe that God makes each Christian (including you) into a new creation in whom He delights?

Follow-Up

  • Listen to and watch Redeemed, sung by Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave. Before he sings about his journey from shame to humility, Mike tells the powerful story that led him to write the words of this song.

 

Redeemed (I’m Not Who I Used to Be)
Post: © Lynne Fox, 2015 [Redeemed: © WMG 2012 Big Daddy Weave]
biblegrapes.com

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