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“Not What I Was”

Monday, February 22, 2016

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:2, esv).

Recently I was shocked by a picture on social media, but not because it was your typical social-media shocker. It was a picture of Kathy and me. Although I was surprised again by my wife’s beauty, I was more shocked by the guy in the picture with her. I almost didn’t recognize myself.

Even more surprising was the fact that the photo wasn’t taken so long ago. I thought to myself, How is it possible that I’ve changed that much?

“Press on to everything the Lord has for you.”

But people do change, and not just physically.

That may seem like stating the obvious, but it’s more important than you might realize.

Some change is depressing. But other change is delightful.

We see a similarly shocking transformation in Jacob’s life in Genesis 32. (I wonder if his wife recognized him after this chapter.) Jacob’s brother is on his way to meet with him—and the last time they saw each other, Jacob had stolen his inheritance. So as you read the narrative, you picture Jacob, scared. You can even hear it in the desperation of his prayer: “Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him” (Genesis 32:11).

Don’t miss this: Jacob didn’t always look this way. If you reviewed Jacob’s old picture you would see an avoider. A hider. A cheater. A thief.

But that’s not what you see here.

By the time Jacob was preparing for the encounter with Esau, Jacob prayed about his specific stronghold. He was different. His understanding of how to deal with his fears had changed.

At this point in the story, Jacob definitely had not arrived. He wasn’t yet everything God would make him. (And maybe during his years on earth he never became everything he might have.) But he wasn’t who he had been. He was changed.

I love this phrase:

I’m not what I could be.
I’m not what I should be.
But I’m not what I was.

Every now and then, it’s good to look back and take inventory of who we were, who we are, and who we’re becoming. Let’s not be satisfied with the person we were last year. Let’s press on to everything the Lord has for us.

Today I look very different from that person in the not-so-old picture on my timeline. But I’m realizing that’s a good thing. When I look at that person, I can say . . .

I’m not what I could be.
I’m not what I should be.
But I’m not what I was.

Maybe you need to say that to yourself in the mirror today.


  • As you look back to who you were, what are some of the biggest changes God has brought about in your life?
  • Consider who you will be next year. What is one thing you pray God will change in you?

Thank You for changing me, Father! I want to grow. I want to mature. Help me to see where change is needed in me, and grant me the courage to face my sin. Draw me closer to You today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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