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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: Snapshots from the Garden
By Mary Lou Tiner


You’ve all seen the photos: a frumpy woman, dressed in an oversized t-shirt, hair disheveled, looking like she just inhaled an entire chocolate cake by herself! And next to this depressing snapshot, a brighter, cheerier picture with the words “AFTER” written in bold over the top, revealing a beautiful, thin, athletic creature, dressed like a model with perfect hair and makeup, and not even a crumb of chocolate cake on her chin. Why is it that we are drawn to such “before and after” scenarios? Why does a glimmer of hope rise inside us, as we think: perhaps this is the real deal; perhaps this “wonder-drug” really does work. Why is it that deep inside we all long to be better than we are?
I believe God has created within each of us a longing to become the “AFTER” picture. Don’t misunderstand: God cares very little if we are a size 24 or size 6; but He does care very much about our inner man. This longing for something more is rooted deep within our very beings. It is what causes us to yearn to be more beautiful, smarter, richer, healthier, popular, powerful. Unfortunately, far too often, we seek to change the “BEFORE” picture by simply altering the external and temporal attributes of our life.
It all started in the Garden of Eden. The Serpent showed Eve her “BEFORE” picture. “Look at yourself!” he hissed. “You are not as smart as God. You are missing something in your life. Don’t you want more? This fruit will give you what you want.” The Serpent even showed her an “AFTER” picture of all she could become. Eve believed the lie, reached up and grabbed the fruit - what she imagined to be her “wonder-drug” - and ate it, only to discover her “AFTER” picture was worse than “BEFORE”!
The Creator Himself placed this longing in her heart for something more. But the “something more” she longed for was not what she found when she took things into her own hands. The Creator had given Eve a longing for more of Himself, for a deeper, more intimate relationship, a desire to be a reflection of His image; yet by seeking to fulfill this longing in the wrong way, Eve lost everything.
What about you? Are you disgusted every time you look at your “BEFORE” picture? Do you long to be more than you are? Have you attempted to change the picture, only to discover it became even worse? Do you feel like it is hopeless to ever become that beautiful “AFTER” person you know you want to be? God has placed this longing in your heart, because He longs to change you into His image!
Not through miracle drugs but through the greatest gift of all, Jesus, can you truly become the “AFTER” person you want to be. God did not want to leave Eve - or you and I – in the “BEFORE” state we find ourselves. He wants us to know Him and to be changed into His image. Jesus came, lived, died and rose again to make it possible for us to become completely new in Him.
I have often suspected that those “BEFORE” and “AFTER” pictures have been retouched and enhanced but the good news is, in Jesus we can become the real deal! Isn’t it time to become all God intended for you to be? 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Now that is an “AFTER” picture worth looking at!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Myrna Noyes05/24/09
The inner longing to be more, better, different is something all of us deal with at some point in our lives, and your devotional deals well with this topic.

You have a nice writing style, and your opening descriptions of the "before and after" women were very true-to-life. I especially appreciated your thoughts about Satan and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

This was very inspirational, and I hope you keep on writing!
Marylea Monroe05/28/09
A nice contrast between the Garden of Eden and life today. How I liked the was you expessed how Satan tempted Eve with her before and after. A good devotional, you might tighten it up a bit