Can They Tell You’ve Been with Jesus?

When was the last time you ran into someone you haven’t seen in a while and they made the comment, “There’s something different about you?” How about someone you see regularly making a comment like, “It’s apparent you’ve made some changes in your life. I can see them.” When you are spending time with God and digging into His Word, the Bible, to allow the truth of it to change you, these comments should be normal in your life. Yet, it’s not just reading the Bible that changes a person because, in our own strength, we will often fail. The change seen by those around us on the outside is the fruit that comes from the internal Spirit we receive when we receive the gift of God’s salvation through accepting Jesus.

My husband, Erick, and I enjoy sharing our marriage testimony of going through this very processes and how much of a thorough mess we were in the beginning of our 18-year marriage. Whenever we share, it’s hard to imagine the picture of who we were compared to how we look today. To put it into context, when you see us in public we are very affectionate and our daughter sometimes wishes we would stop all the affection at home too. Yet, we really didn’t like each other for the first 5 – 6 years of our marriage. Erick and I often say it was only through God’s grace that we are still married because sometimes we didn’t understand why we continued to stay. You see, when we entered into our marriage, Erick was 23 and I was 21. I had 2 children from two previous relationships, yet had never been married. Erick had only one serious relationship prior to me and came from a broken home and legacy of men who were abusive and had addiction problems. So here we were two broken people thinking marrying someone would somehow make us whole. Did we have it all wrong!

Personally, I grew up in a home without feeling loved by my dad. I suffered silently with sexual abuse and low self-esteem which grew into destructive and risky behavior into my teen years and opened the door to additional victimizations. I had my first son at 16 and second at 19. I was abandoned by both men. I thought that if I just found the right guy to love me, then that would somehow fix me and all my problems. I eventually found a great guy, but when marrying him didn’t fix my internal issues that came from a result of all my brokenness, I believed there must be something wrong with him. I expected Erick to be my Jesus instead of seeking the true Jesus. The sad part of the story is that it was because of Erick that I first learned of a relationship with Jesus. When we started dating, I started attending the church Erick was a member of and we were married in that church after dating for 8 months. I thought that if I went to church and put on a happy face and tried to look the part of a good Christian wife and mother, then somehow, I could fix my mistakes or the internal brokenness would somehow disappear. It took coming to the end of myself, to realize that I couldn’t change me on my own. In fact, God allowed me to come to the end of myself when I almost ended my own life before He miraculously intervened.

When I came to the end of me, I looked to Him and the truth of His Word because I had nowhere else to turn. Yet, it was a choice. We are given the promise in Romans 8:2-4 (NLT) of the Holy Spirit’s power to heal and change us as we focus on Him instead of ourselves.  “And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.  The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”(NLT)

Jesus’ disciplines were the first ones to show this visible difference by the Holy Spirit in their lives. In Acts 4:13, Peter and John were arrested for testifying of Jesus after they healed a lame man. “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” (NLT) You might be thinking, “Well, of course. They spent three years with Jesus”. Remember that although John was the only disciple at the foot of Jesus’ cross, Peter couldn’t even stand up to a little girl who accused him of being with Jesus. It wasn’t until he received the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 after Jesus left, that Peter’s boldness came.

Be encouraged, that you don’t have to do or say all the right things to make yourself change. Even just being in a church or reading the Bible is not going to produce the visible change that is sustaining. It’s accepting and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your life that produces the change that is visible to the world and will be the witness to those around you.

Tina Willis is one of our Refres{her} bloggers. She has been married to her best friend and love of her life for 18 years. She is a mother to 3 very diverse individuals who Tina credits with God using to save her life and stretch her into the person she has become today. She loves that she graduated to grandmother status and falls deeper in love with her granddaughter every day. Tina's ultimate goal is to enjoy life with the people she loves and hopes her legacy will be a reflection of her passion for bettering the world around her and those in it.