Before. And After.
The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! II Corinthians 5:17b (The Msg)
After she got her braces off, my daughter happily swiped her tongue across the front of her now straightened teeth. That morning, I realized I’d not taken a ‘before’ picture. But she didn’t see the need.
“Mom I’ve already taken hundreds of ‘before’ pictures of me.”
No argument there.
When I’d settled onto an upholstered sofa in the waiting room at the orthodontist, a girl with a slick new set of teeth entered and greeted her mom with a toothy smile.
“Oh honey, I should have gotten a ‘before’ picture,” lamented her mom.
As they turned to leave, her daughter tossed a response over her shoulder. “Mom, I have a ton of ‘before’ pictures already.” That mom had no argument either.
I smiled weakly and offered an understanding nod.
And then went my pondering: what’s up with the whole idea of a ‘before and after’ picture anyway? Why did I and the other mom want one? Why does anyone want a ‘before and after’ picture?
When I take a ‘before’ picture I am motivated strictly by one thing: there will be a noticeable difference in appearance when the ‘after’ event happens.
Before plastic surgery. After plastic surgery.
Before teeth whitening strips. After teeth whitening strips.
Before a major presentation. After a major presentation.
Before deployment. After deployment.
Before 26 years of marriage. After 26 years of marriage. And several children.
Before months of diligent exercise and portion control. After months of diligent exercise and portion control, the pictures of which I’d likely admire while downing a pint of Blue Bell.
Before the fall of man. After the fall of man (Can’t even imagine).
Before I became a Christian in high school. After I became a Christian in high school.
Wait, what? Aside from the fact that the face and hair now show signs of age since that memorable day, I have to wonder, is there a noticeable difference in the ‘after’? a difference that’s measurable and visible, yet eternally significant?
What were my hands doing before? What are they doing now?
What was my countenance before? What is it now?
Where was my Bible then? And where is it…no, where are any of the four I own… now?
How did I respond to mission field opportunities before? How do I respond now?
What was my response to haggard homeless people, the isolated elderly, or the incarcerated felons before? What is it now?
Eternity will call me to give an account of all I’ve done – and not done – here on planet earth. Has my walk with Christ been such that a ‘before and after’ pic would be telling?
Maybe I’m missing from the picture because I’ve run too far ahead of Christ. Or perhaps I’m lagging behind, whining about the cross He’s asked me to bear.
Either way, there are ‘before and after’ pictures which God has collected throughout my life. What story do they tell?
And just what do your pics look like?