I love before and afters. TV Shows, magazine articles, you name it, I’m a fan. I love to see a “before” picture of a room, all disheveled and unusable and embarrassing, and then voila! the “after”: clean, functional, and inviting. HGTV is based largely on this premise, as is The Biggest Loser (just take out the word “room” and insert “body”). I also love Clean Sweep and What Not to Wear on TLC. I will watch episode after episode of these shows, and today I wondered, why? It’s not like there’s any plot twists; I can predict what’s going to happen every time. The show begins with, “Oh, how can you stand to live like this?” and ends with “Now look at this room/me/our house!”
I feel sometimes like I live in a “before” picture. Dirty house, clothes that cry, “I give up!”, funky-smelling minivan. And don’t even get me started on my mind and my heart…filthy, and selfish. If you could open my spiritual and emotional lid and peek inside, what you saw would change the way you look at me forever. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Where’s the “after”?
I think we love before and afters because we are God’s image-bearers. We know that what we are now is not what we should be, and we long for…perfection, in a word. That is why there are not enough hours in the day to do all we want to do, and why we tend to focus on what went wrong instead of all the things that went right, and why we are never satisfied, and why we keep trying to get it right, day after day. Why do we care?
We were made to reflect God’s image perfectly, but our sin keeps us from it. Cue: frustration. Our best efforts are not enough, the event never lives up to the hype, and we wonder why we bother. The only permanent solution to our problem is an overhaul, an internal “after”. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” See? God likes before and afters just as much as we do.
So why don’t I live like an “after”? Why so much “before” still in my life? We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.