by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
Last week marked the 12th anniversary of my release from Federal incarceration. My life has been a display of God’s faithfulness, regardless of who we are or what we have done. I remember the day of my release from the Halfway House. I was clutching a box that held my possessions. I was also keeping God’s promises in my heart. One of those promises was Romans 8:28.
Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” The first time I heard that verse, I was a new believer preparing to go to prison. I did not think it could apply to me, because I didn’t see how God could possibly work out my being a Federal Meth Felon with a prison record for good.
It would be easy to look at my life now and see the external blessings of God and point to those things as the “good” promised in that verse. I have a home, a career, family, friends, and stability. All the trappings of the American dream. But those are not the things God calls good. What God calls good is found in Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
God knew before the beginning of time, I would belong to Him. He had a plan to use my childhood trauma, my addiction, and even my incarceration, to bring the ultimate good in my life. He used it to make me more like Jesus. My broken life caused me to reach out to Him, and once I asked Him to take over, He began giving me a divine makeover. My rage has been replaced by peace. My addiction has been replaced by radical love for Jesus. My anxiety has been turned to faith (most of the time). In other words, I am starting to be conformed to the image of Jesus, and God says that is good.
It’s crucial we understand this because if our definition of good is a white picket fence and a new car, we will be looking for those things as tributes to God’s faithfulness and miss the real miracle of a transformed life. And while I don’t think He minds us having a new car, I don’t believe that is His definition of good. I think a person who holds on to Him when facing unimaginable tragedy moves His heart. I believe He thinks that is very, very good because, in those moments, they look just like Jesus.
So in case being transformed into the likeness of Jesus does not excite you, maybe you need to take another look at the Gospels. I made a short list of some of Jesus character traits I saw displayed in the first few chapters of Mark. He was: bold, fearless, impossible to manipulate, confrontational when needed, not a people pleaser, lived to do the Father’s will, beloved of God, compassionate, wise beyond measure, a teacher, humble, approachable, an excellent public speaker, a revolutionary, chose friends wisely, loved underdogs, was not religious, knew His purpose, had supernatural perception, not a shred of selfishness, a champion under-reactor (never freaked out), perfect self-control, did not have rejection issues, healed the sick, raised the dead, and was full of faith and full of power.
There are a lot of things not covered on that list, like His ability to step out into a raging storm and release peace. I especially want that trait. But I must admit, I’m not there yet. So, until I get there, let the divine makeover continue. Now, pray with me, “Go ahead, God, be so good to me in my life that you make me look just like Jesus. Amen”