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Shedding and Donning 

It’s called ecdysis. No, it’s not a fungus or medical problem. It’s the term to describe the shedding of old skin - reptiles in particular. You may have been wandering through a field and found the outside of a snake - all in one piece. It hasn’t died and it’s not a reptilian prank. Just like you and me, snakes shed their skin. But unlike you and me, snakes shed all at once, instead of flake by flake. A snake’s skin is not very elastic. As the snake grows, the skin stretches until it can stretch no more. It has to be left behind. The old must be discarded to make room for the new. Growth demands it. And in that way, snakes are just like you and me.

In Colossians Paul speaks of the growth of soul. We too must experience a type of spiritual ecdysis. We are to put off the things that use to be and now put on the new self being renewed by the Creator (3:8-10). It doesn’t take us long to realize that this shedding and donning is a repeated process. We can’t do it only once. As we grow in Christ, we are challenged to shed the old and put on the new. The way things used to be is not sufficient for the new life God has for us.  

For us to grow in Christ, there will be a continual shedding and donning. We remove and put on. It’s not enough to simply lay aside old ways. They need to be replaced. Truth instead of lies. Surrender instead of self orientation. Love holding no room for grudges. Faith residing where fear once was. I do not mean to suggest that this shedding is as automatic as a snake’s skin. It has to be our repeated intent and action. I do not believe that we have the capacity to do this on our own. We are being re-shaped by the kind grace of God. But God is able. He promises transformation, where the old passes away and all things become new. And of course - if this were a painless growth, everyone would change effortlessly. But you know better.  

We resist the shedding. We cling to what is, even if it impedes our development. We are anxious about the stretching of the Spirit. It cuts too close to the skin we are familiar with. So I’m glad I don’t have to do it all at once like a snake! Little by little. Piece by piece. Step by step. Day by day. We can be grown from glory to glory through the Spirit. We set aside what was and embrace what can be.