By Jerry Groves
Several years ago I was visiting my mother’s house in Denver. I was just mulling around her home looking for something to do to fill the time until I had to pick my daughter up from school. I had about 45 minutes before I had to be at the school so I began looking through old photo albums that were neatly arranged on the shelf. Some of those photos go back a very long time, so dust had to brushed away from the covers.
Many of the photos in the albums were taken before I was born. I saw my family tree right before my eyes. Pictures of my parents, grandparents, and even my great grandparents. I viewed pictures of my mother when she was a young girl and my father as a young man. I began to consider that they actually had lives before they were married and had us children :-).
Then I came across photos of myself and my siblings. Others of my cousins and the rest of the family and friends that were about my age. I saw some pictures of myself when I was very young innocent, and without a care in the world, before mistakes were made and harsh cruel words were spoken. “What a wonderful time that was,” I thought to myself. Then I also began to feel sorrow and regret for some of the past mistakes I had made. I found myself yearning for those childhood days when I was innocent and naïve, before I made some of the mistakes in my life. Some of the decisions I wish I could change, some of the behavior I wish I could take back. I longed to travel back in time to some of those defining moments when a better choice should have been made.
But alas, you can’t go back nor can we change the past. “What’s done is done,” as they say. I was at a loss and became somewhat gloomy and melancholy. But then I remembered! I remembered that I was a Christian and when you are in Christ “old things are passed away behold all things become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, emp. added). I remembered that Jesus had washed my sins away along with the guilt and the shame. And through Christ’s sacrifice, I was made righteous through his death on the cross.
“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Therefore I rejoice in the gospel “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH ” (Romans 1:16-17, emp. added). That is the photo I yearn for. That is the picture that encourages me.
Imagine if you will that God has a photo album and He comes across your picture. What will He think when He looks at it? Will God see a son who has made mistakes and has regrets? Will he see a daughter who has gone astray? Or will He see the child who had once left home but has returned, as He patiently waited for His wayward child to come to his senses (Luke 15:11-32)? Will the photo show you after you came in contact with the saving blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7)? A picture of an innocent, carefree youth who may be a bit naïve, but has a focused and promising look in his eye, with his gaze fixed toward eternity?
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-5).
Do you want a new picture taken? Jesus is the only way to overcome sin, regret, shame, and guilt. Through Him we can stand innocent in the presence of the Most High God. In order to do so, you must have faith in Christ (Romans 10:17). You must have a change of mind and then of behavior (Acts 17:30). You must be willing to confess Jesus as the son of God (Matthew 16:16). You must be immersed in water for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21).Then you must love God and live faithfully until death (1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 2:10). So rejoice, Christian. For your picture and mine are in God’s eternal photo album.