When the Old Self Is Tangled Up in the New Self
Rachel Craddock, Guest Writer
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).
I trained for my first half marathon in 2014. I completed short runs throughout the week, and on Saturday mornings I would meet our church’s women’s running group for long runs out on the bike trail. One particular morning, we were meeting earlier because of the anticipated heat, and I remember it still being dark as I nursed my baby, brushed my teeth, put on my running clothes, and then quietly crept downstairs to grab some kinesthetic tape for my ankles and my shoes. I was running late and kept the lights off, so I grabbed a left and a right running shoe and drove in my taped and socked feet out to the trail, hoping to just lace up in the parking lot. When I arrived at the trail, I discovered I had a left and a right shoe; however, I had grabbed one old running shoe and one new running shoe. In my persistence, I laced up anyway. My goal for the day was eight miles, and since I already had snuck out of my home successfully, I didn’t want to waste that time. I thought, “What harm could I do wearing one old and one new shoe?”
I was maybe a mile into my long run when I began to feel the pain in my stride from wearing one old shoe and one new shoe. My left foot began to ache sooner than my right, and as I tried to push through the aches, the aches just began to creep up from my ankles to my shins, and to my knees. I knew it wouldn’t be long before my hip would begin to twinge, so around the two-and-a-half-mile mark, I decided to turn around and walk back in shame to my car, struggling all the way with negative self-talk and self-contempt. In the moments when I find my performance to be lacking, I am my worst enemy.
As I battled my poisonous self on the long walk back to my car, for two and a half miles I thought about how ridiculous it is to try to run in two different shoes. Not only did my stride look funny, but it also felt funny and off-balance.
On my long walk back, I thought about Hebrews 12:1: Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. If you don’t get rid of all of the old . . . you can’t run. You can’t persevere. I thought about 2 Corinthians 5:17: If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come. The old has to go away for you to walk in the new way God is calling you to in the righteousness of Christ.
It seems as silly as my mismatched shoes for me to think about hanging onto my old self as I walk in the new heritage I have in the gospel. Knowing this cognitively is one thing, but synthesizing this truth as a pattern of living is much more difficult. I still find myself struggling with my old patterns and my old ways even though I know the gospel. I still have so much unraveling to do. There are so many layers beneath the surface, and I feel that daily, as I read God’s Word, God is saying, “Hey you! Put that off! That is the old way you used to think about that, use My words and walk in them.”
When the old is tangled up in the new, it feels funny. I have felt the pain of the tension between the old self and the new self. Just like in my two different running shoes—if I try to walk with Christ with some old and some new, after a while this way of off-balanced living will begin to affect me emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Living with the old tangled up in the new looks as silly as those shoes, and it is uncomfortable and unsatisfying. I can’t run with the old tangled up in the new. I can’t persevere to love in the Christian life when my old patterns are tangled up in my new life in Christ.
Unraveling doesn’t happen once in a lifetime. Unraveling doesn’t happen once a week after a convicting sermon on Sunday morning. Unraveling doesn’t even happen once a day. Unraveling happens on the long hard miles of everyday life with your spouse, kids, neighbors, and co-workers. In gospel-centered living, it is necessary to unravel the old, be renewed by the spirit of your mind, and embrace a new pattern, woven in God’s Word all the time. Returning to the gospel on a daily basis enables us to throw off the things that hinder and entangle us, when we choose to walk in our heavenly shoes, it is much easier to preserve in the Christian life.
Lord, You promise that You have begun a good work in us and You are transforming us by Your grace and through The Spirit who is at work in our lives. By Your grace, reveal to us our old patterns so we can repent and live a life that is less of us and more of You!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Craddock, a writer and speaker, serves as Regional Advisor of Women's Ministry to Mid-America for the PCA. She desires to encourage women in a relatable way to practically apply the gospel to their daily lives, and have a relationship with the God who unravels the old to make us new in the redemptive blood of Jesus. She and her family are members of North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason, Ohio where her husband serves as lead pastor. You can connect with Rachel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or on her blog, rachelcraddock.com
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