I'll admit, I do make fun of Cleveland a lot. It's just too easy: the weather, the sports teams, the river that has caught fire three times, the gray bubble of cloud that engulfs my car as I drive up 71N. However, it's really not as bad as I exaggerate it to be. Home on Thanksgiving break, I drive around familiar streets again as random childhood memories shuffle through my brain.
I often see Cleveland in the afore mentioned "gray bubble"- not so much in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense. You see, I associate my entire life lived in Cleveland with "old self" Kelsey. Ephesians 4:22 says, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires..." This "putting off of my old self" isn't quite that easy because, when I return to Cleveland, all these strange emotions come flooding into my heart. I am not trying to over exaggerate anything; I had a great childhood, with a loving family and anything I could ever ask for. The feeling that I'm reminded of is one that's deep in my soul...the feeling of being lost; of wondering if there was maybe a little more to life than what I knew.
The verse in Ephesians continues: "...to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (v.23-24). As I went off to college and over the next several years, my "old self" was replaced with this "new self." This "old self" tends to come back when I drive into the city limits. As the verse says, I am being made new in the attitude of my mind. When I've been associating things in my mind for almost 20 years and now I'm radically changing that world view, it's not always easy, and that's ok. It's a process.
Each time I pull my car into the driveway of "old self" Kelsey it gets a little easier. I was reminded yesterday of my new self- that I really AM new and that the old really IS gone. It happened over a cup of hot chocolate...
I went to a local coffee shop with a girl that I played high school soccer with. She was a freshman when I was a senior, so I didn't know her too well. Somehow, we have kept in touch over the last few years and we decided to catch up on life.
She told me how much she looked up to me in high school and said that during her freshman year someone told her that I would write "Joshua 1:9" on my basketball and soccer shoes. She said that hearing this was really encouraging to her. I started laughing because, I wasn't a believer when I was in high school. I just thought that "quote" (i.e. Bible verse) was cool because it seemed like it applied to athletics. I shared my story with her and then I got goose-bumps as I took off my shoe to show her the tattoo on my foot...of a cross and the verse "Joshua 1:9."
I used to write that verse on my shoe with "permanent marker." But you know what? Every few months I would have to reapply the marker because it had been smeared off my shoe. Now, it's permanently inked into my skin. I couldn't donate blood up to a year after I got that tattoo, because traces of the ink stay in your blood stream. It's not just on me, it's in me. That's how much the tattoo is a part of me now. I will never look the same again because of it.
Kinda like Jesus. "See, I have engraved you on the [top of my foot]..." (Isaiah 49:16). I'm not a marker on the side of his sandal that can be easily smeared or wiped away. I'm tattooed not only onto his foot, but into his heart.
I'M NOT WHO I WAS. Cleveland or not. I will never look the same again because of him.
"Oh Jesus, you raised me
How could I ever return
To things that you told me would burn?
When will I ever learn
That I am new..." -Jimmy Needham
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