by Johnny Allen
When I gave my life to Christ in February 2007, I created a new problem for myself…I didn’t know how to be a Christian. I hadn’t gotten to the point of trusting Jesus completely. I just didn’t realize the power I possessed thru Christ who now lived in me. So, I fought my new identity – I tried to figure it out myself and it just doesn’t work that way. This is real in the lives of so many who come to Christ in prison. We have chaplains who have limited time to counsel, to disciple hundreds of men and we haven’t grown to that place of total dependence on God and His Word.
So let me share how I felt, 1 year into my new life. And please, all you prayer warriors, continue to pray for these men who give their lives to Christ and are trying to figure it all out in the dark places they find themselves in. Pray for them to have strength and encouragement daily, for I know how hard it is to live inside the razor wire as a new believer.
I wrote this from Jefferson City Correctional Center in February 2008 – exactly 1 year after I surrendered my life to Jesus.
Here’s how I felt in February 2008 – trying to figure it out, of course today I see what a waste of time it was for me to try to do the figuring out 🙂
My Life – February 2008 – Jefferson City Correctional Center
Often, when you are on the spiritual path, there is a war that goes on between the person you once were and the person you are becoming. Some call it “thought patterns”, others call it “habit”. My experience was that I had 2 distinct personalities needing to be integrated. (This was before I understood that the old man had truly died). I discovered that the older you are, the more difficult it is to accomplish a smooth integration. The old you, the one who helped you survive, the one that was there with you in the rough times, is going to fight to stay alive. The old you knows your secrets and your history. The old you knows your defense mechanisms, what you will do when your buttons get pushed and exactly where your weaknesses lie. The old you knows what works for you and is terrified by the thought of trying something new. The old you is comfortable with the way things are and were. The old you wants to stay in control. The old you seems to have home court advantage.
The new you, the spiritually conscious, not yet grounded you, is fumbling around trying to figure it out and what works now. It’s the part of you that has yet to be proven. You may believe strongly, you may want deeply to change and for your new found identity to emerge. But the new you is not quite sure it will work. It nags at you. It challenges you. It’s called self-doubt and lame excuses. It looks like this – not having time to pray or just not praying – not meditating and just not being able to figure out how praying and meditating are going to put food on the table back home, or pay the other bills, etc, etc. The new you views problems as challenges – challenges for me to fix. The new you has been taught that with every challenge there is a solution, the escape, a way out but hasn’t grown enough to trust. The new you is willing to confront challenges and wants to do so in a spiritually grounded way. Yet, when the new you is backed into a corner, it will out of habit, borrow from the old you. The instant the borrowing occurs the new you is rendered dead – even it if is only for a moment. The challenge is that when the new you is brought back into focus there is usually another pile of crap that needs to be cleaned up. Once again, here I am attempting to clean up that old crap and give this new man a chance to live life without relying on the old man for the solutions. One vicious cycle is what my life has been and will be until I completely bury that old man.
Later in the evening – after writing all this, God revealed to me that on February 24, 2007, 1 year earlier, when I gave my life to Him, that the old man had died. I was trying to resurrect the old me and had convinced myself I had. I found myself later that evening getting back to the basics and have never warred against the old me since. I got back into God’s Word, the Truth. This is the scripture I recorded that night.
2 Timothy 3:16 – “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness“.
I don’t need the old me. I have God’s Word.
- Doctrine tells me which road to travel.
- Reproof tells us when we are off that road.
- Correction tells us how to get back on and Instruction in Righteousness tells us how to stay on God’s path for our lives.