Meeting with Jesus changes us. Or at least it should. We shouldn't walk away from an encounter with Jesus the same as we were before the encounter.
Being changed doesn't mean everything we say or think or do will be instantly different. When we meet with and He sets us free, we still have to learn to walk out that freedom.
We have to develop new habits to take the place of the old ones. We have to develop new ways of thinking to replace the old ways.
This all takes time, but it doesn't mean we weren't changed because of our encounter with Jesus. We were changed. If we weren't, it wouldn't be possible for us to develop new habits and ways of thinking, because we would still be bound up in the chains that held us down.
We walk away from an encounter with Jesus changed. And then we learn to live it out in our everyday life. We learn new ways of living that reflect what our encounter with Jesus changed in us.
This is something I've been learning in the last few weeks. At the beginning of this month, I went to a retreat with my church called Encounter God. And that's exactly what happened for me that weekend. I encountered God, and I did leave changed.
God met me when I put myself in a place where what I wanted was to meet with Him. He broke bondage that had kept me from being who He created me to be, as I confessed it and chose to turn from it. He healed hurts from my past that had been keeping a firm grip on my life.
I knew I was leaving that weekend a different person - a free person. But I also knew that didn't mean there wasn't work I still had to do. God had broken the chains and healed the hurts, but now I had to get up and walk. The healing and freedom wouldn't do me any good if I just stayed exactly where I was.
Like the people Jesus brought physical healing to when He walked the earth - after Jesus healed them, they had to get up and walk. Like Peter when he was miraculously freed from prison (see Acts 12) - when the chains fell off him, he had to get up and walk out of the prison.
If the people Jesus healed hadn't gotten up and walked, their healing wouldn't have meant much to them. If Peter hadn't walked out of the prison, his freedom from his chains wouldn't have meant much to him.
The same is true for me. If I don't get up and walk away from the chains that held me in my own prison, my freedom doesn't mean much. If I don't get up and walk because I've been healed, my healing doesn't mean much.
So, that's what these last few weeks have been about for me and what the weeks ahead will be like. Learning to walk out my freedom and my healing.
And it all started because I met with Jesus and allowed that encounter to change me. The change has happened, now I have to walk in it.
I share this to encourage you. It's easy to get discouraged when you know God has done something and yet nothing seems to change in how you live. It takes time to learn to walk out the change.
When was the last time you had an encounter with Jesus that changed you? How are you doing at walking that out?