Don’t get me wrong, I like Walter Mathau. He was a fine actor. I just didn’t want to look like him. So imagine my shock when I looked in the mirror, and instead of my face, Walter Mathau stared back at me.
Maybe I need to explain myself. It all started with my grandpa…
“Why don’t you shave off your beard, Jerry? You look like a criminal.” Hardly the kind of support you look for from your grandfather, but his true thoughts nonetheless. His simple statement sent my head spinning. “What would I look like without my beard?” I wondered. So a few years ago I just shaved it off. After twenty years with a mustache, over twelve years with a beard of some sort, I shaved it all off.
I looked into the mirror and realized that I really did look a lot like Walter Mathau. I had a whole chicken neck thing dangling under my chin that I had never noticed before.
My wife Lanette and I had talked the night before I bared my face, and she had reassured me that I was the best looking man in our church (Isn’t it obvious why I love her?). I didn’t warn her about my date with the razor. I just did it. I went in to take a shower and when I came out, I sprung my new face on her. To say she was underwhelmed is putting it mildly. She got the kind of look on her face you get when somebody hands you food they made themselves and all you can think about is how to spit it out before you die. By the way, did you know more people get food poisoning at church potlucks than anywhere else? It’s true.
Lanette looked at me and said, “Oh…wow. You shaved it all off.” It’s pretty hard to sneak anything by her! What was your first clue, Dear? The gaping hole in my chin that I hacked out with the razor? The faint glow of incandescent light glaring off the pasty lower half of my face?
Needing reassurance I inclined my head for a kiss. She closed her eyes and murmured, “AAHH.” At first I thought she was being passionate. Then I realized I had mistaken alarm for excitement. Her riotous laughter was a pretty good tip. She muttered something about me not looking like the same guy and took off down the hall laughing and chuckling the whole way. Not the kind of response you want when you ask your wife for a kiss.
Of course I was the same guy, I just looked different. My face may have changed, but I was still the same guy.
Things change as a result of our decision to follow Christ. And just like shaving off my beard, the difference is readily apparent.
When we come to know Christ many things change in our lives. In his book, The Radical Christian, Arthur Wallis points out that at the moment of salvation God lays an ax to the roots of our lives and nothing is ever the same. Things that used to be unimportant, like reading the Bible and prayer, are now vital to our existence. The things that used to be vital are no longer even necessary. Our whole life changes, and changes for the better.
After we change, we must still deal with our past. We are constantly bombarded with our past sins and failures. Every little thing we have ever done will come before our memories as Satan tries to shame us out of our relationship with Christ.
A preacher on an evangelistic tour was invited to spend the night with some members of a local congregation. The family consisted of a father, a mother, and a 12-year-old boy. As they all sat around the fire, the father began to tell of the circumstances surrounding the adoption of their only son, a youngster they had aided a few years before. “The child was just a poor orphan when we first saw him,” said the man. “He was in rags and very dirty, but his shoes were the worst of all. The upper parts were in tatters, and the soles had huge holes in them. We immediately gave him new clothes, but decided to keep those battered shoes as a reminder of how bad off he really had been. I put them in a closet nearby; and whenever our son complains or becomes unruly, I merely take them out to help him remember how much we’ve done for him.” The preacher noticed that the lad looked hurt and ashamed and, in fact, a bit unwanted. Careful to avoid offending his host, and realizing he perhaps had a good motive in trying to make the youngster appreciate his blessings, the evangelist said nothing. Yet he recognized that always bringing up the grim past was disheartening to the boy. He thought to himself, “What a blessing it is that God has cast our sins into the sea of everlasting forgetfulness.”
If you have come to know Christ, throw those old shoes out of your closet. You don’t need them anymore. They no longer fit your new life. God has peace and forgiveness for you. He doesn’t remember your sins any longer. They are gone forever! As far as the east is from the west, the Scripture tells us.
If Satan tries to remind you of your past, remind him of his future. The Bible tells us that he is a defeated foe, and he loses all in the end!
As for me, I am growing my beard back. Unlike the hair that is leaving the top of my head, the hair on the bottom of my chin does come back! I guess some changes are better than others.
Throwing away my razor, (Sorry, Grandpa!)… Jerry