**phew!** Where has the time gone?! It’s been since JULY since I was able to sit down, type out, get internet, and post here on my little blog—and so many things have transpired since then! I have some things to share in the very near future, but this post is going to be a little different!
As some of you may already know, and for those of you who currently do not, you’re about to J **winks**, I am the co-leader of an online ladies writers group, called Writing for God’s Glory! We recently had our first contest on “Being Transformed, Not Conformed”, and the winner(s)’ entries were to be posted on my and Bekah’s (the other leader! J) personal blogs!
This is the First Place winning entry, submitted by Miss Ashley L. I hope you enjoy her short story as immensely as I did, and I also hope that it stirs your heart and inspires you to share the love of Christ and to be Transformed by the constant renewing of your mind through reading the Word, and to be Conformed to the image of Jesus Christ!!
Transformed Not Conformed
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2
By: Ashley L. Lichtenberg
“Hhhhh…this will never do. No one’s ever going to take one of these tracts,” Leandra moaned to herself. She flung herself onto a nearby park bench and gazed into the deep blue, cloudless sky. The air was crisp; and brilliant red and orange leaves danced in the cool, autumn breeze. Leandra pulled her woolen skirt around her ankles and hugged her knees to her chest. Earlier she had been attempting to hand out tracts to people who were strolling through the park. However, every single person had turned her down. “No thank you, Miss. I must be going now,” is what they all had seemed to say.
Now, Leandra was feeling extremely discouraged, and she felt like giving up. “Oh, Lord,” she prayed, “please grant me the courage and confidence to press on. Please help me to be able to witness to at least one person today.” Feeling her zeal renewed, Leandra stood up and began to walk through the park once more.
After she had been walking for a while, Leandra suddenly heard laughing and loud talking. She looked around, hoping that this would be her opportunity to witness. Finally, she spotted the little group of teenage girls who hushed their voices the moment they saw her. Leandra thought for a moment, “Maybe I’ll try a different approach with these girls.”
The girls began to whisper and point fingers in her direction, but froze when she approached them. “Hello there! My name is Leandra. Would any of you be interested in taking a small survey?” All of the girls just eyed her long dark hair and the skirt that was sweeping the toes of her boots, quite the contrast to their attire.
Finally, one girl asked, “What kind of survey is it?”
Leandra was getting excited, “Well it’s a kind of spiritual survey. I’ll ask you some questions about Christianity.”
A couple of the girls sneered, “If you want to talk about religion, then we’re the wrong people to ask.” Leandra sighed with discouragement, but just as she was about to leave, one of the girls placed her hand on Leandra’s shoulder. The girl gave a nervous glance towards her friends before speaking, “Wait, Leandra. I’m interested in taking your survey.”
Leandra smiled at her, “You are? Great! Okay, here’s the first question. How many of the ten commandments can you name?”
The girl thought for a moment, “Um…let me see. Thou shalt not kill… thou shalt not steal…um…thou shalt not commit adultery…um…I can’t remember any more.”
Her friends jeered at her, “Too bad for you, Tina! You’re just falling right into a trap! You’re making a fool of yourself, Tina, come with us.” Tina watched as her friends disappeared down the path.
Leandra put her hand on Tina’s shoulder, “Don’t worry about what they think, Tina. They’re lost and blinded to the truth. They can’t see what you see. Now, are you ready for the next question or are you going to follow them?”
Tina shook her head and stated firmly, “No. I will not go with them. I have to find out more about this Christianity. I’m ready for the next question.”
Leandra breathed a grateful prayer to God before continuing. “Alright, Tina, here is the next question: Do you believe that the whole Bible is true or just parts of it?”
Tina’s brow wrinkled in concentration, “Well if only parts of the Bible were true, than how would we know which parts were true? So, would it be that the whole Bible is true?”
Leandra was glowing with pleasure, “Absolutely, Tina! You’re right on! Now for question number three: Is eternal life a gift or do you have to earn it?”
Tina grinned, “That’s easy! You have to earn it, of course!”
Leandra pounced on the chance to explain the wonderful gift of salvation. “No, Tina, eternal life is a gift. You see, God loved us so much that He wanted to make a way for us to go to heaven to be with Him. Here, read this verse in my Bible.”
Leandra drew her little Gideon’s ® New Testament from her pocket and turned to John 3:16. She handed it to Tina, who read the verse aloud. “‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ Wow that’s amazing!”
Leandra nodded enthusiastically, “I know, isn’t it? Here, now put your name in where it says ‘the world’ and ‘whoever’.”
Tina looked a little surprised, “Uh…well…if you’re sure. ‘ For God so loved [Tina] that He gave His only begotten Son, that [if Tina] believes in Him [she] should not perish but have everlasting life.’” Tears began to flow down Tina’s face. “That can’t be true! I’ve done way too many bad things for God to love me,” she exclaimed sorrowfully.
Leandra put a comforting arm around Tina’s shoulder. “Tina, listen to me. Did you know that there are stories of people in the Bible who have done terrible things? And some of them turned out to be very strong Christians.”
Tina looked slightly hopeful, “Really? Like who?”
Leandra thought for a moment, “Well, a very good example is the apostle Paul. Before he became a Christian, his name was Saul. He persecuted the early Christians by throwing them into jail and even killing some of them. One day, when he was on his way to Damascus, he was blinded by a bright light. He heard a voice say, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ The voice was Jesus, and it’s kind of a long story, but Saul ended up receiving Jesus as his Savior and walking in obedience to Him. After his conversion, God changed Saul’s name to Paul. Paul turned out to be one of the most amazing apostles and he traveled to many places, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Tina looked very thoughtful, “Hmm…so Paul was a murderer..., and God forgave him and became his Savior?”
Leandra nodded, “Exactly; and He wants to forgive you too. Do you want to accept His gift of salvation, Tina?”
Tina pondered Leandra’s question only for a moment; then she answered confidently, “I do want to accept Jesus as my Savior. I know that I can’t get to heaven without Him, because of my sin.”
Leandra was so thrilled watching God’s hand at work in Tina’s heart. “You want to, Tina, but are you going to? Do want me to pray with you right now?”
Tina nodded vigorously, “I do, Leandra. Let’s pray right now! What do I say?”
Leandra tilted her head thoughtfully, “Well, just tell Him that you realize how wrong your sin is. Also, ask Him to come into your heart, help you to follow Him, and make Him Lord of your life. The Holy Spirit will give you the specific words to say.”
The two girls bowed their heads, and Tina began to pray. “Dear Jesus, I’ve done lots of wrong things; and I don’t deserve to be forgiven. But Leandra says that you’ll forgive me no matter what. I know that I can’t get into heaven without You because of the wrong things that I’ve done. Please come into my heart and clean up my life I want to live for You from now on. I want You to be the Lord of my life. Amen.”
When she had finished praying, Tina looked at Leandra with shining eyes. “Leandra, I feel so good inside! I feel happy and free! I feel like my heart is bubbling with joy!”
Leandra wiped joyful tears from her own eyes, “Tina, isn’t that so special? You’re a child of God now! Now you need to live your life for Him!”
Tina looked confused, “Yeah, I know that I need to live for Him; but, how do I know what to do?”
Leandra recalled her memory verse for that week. “Well the Bible tells us in Romans chapter twelve verse two, ‘And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’ That means that we need to live separately from the world. For example, it’s important for us to honor our parents by obeying and respecting them. It’s also important for us dress modestly, and we must be careful about whom we choose to be our friends.”
Tina nodded, “I see; I’ll try to remember that. Could you be my friend and help me as I learn how to follow Jesus?”
Leandra gave Tina a hug, “Of course I will, Tina! Why don’t you come over to my house once a week and we’ll have a Bible study together! Would Wednesdays work well for you?”
Tina looked excited, “That would be great, Leandra! Could you say that verse for me again? I’d like to learn it too.”
Leandra smiled, “Sure! It is a very good reminder to all of us as Christians. ‘And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’ There’s a flower blooming in your heart, Tina. Keep it well-watered with God’s word so that it will continue to grow.”
The two girls, silhouetted by the sun, were a part of a beautiful picture as they walked hand-in-hand down the path together.
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