The Parable of the Belly Bands
I've been swelling. My pants are getting too tight. They synch my middle. And oddly, this is teaching me some beautiful things about our sonship in the kingdom of God!
Have you ever wondered why we can be adopted as sons and daughters of God? Why the Lord calls us a “new creation” after we repent and ask the Spirit into our hearts? How the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
My belly bands have been teaching me the answers to these questions! (Which also means, I have good news... I'm pregnant!)
A new life is growing within me and I am thrilled. But my old jeans are giving me heck. They squeeze at my middle.
This natural, life-giving process is very uncomfortable.
My fall-back, perfect-fit clothes suddenly seem like foreign creatures to me. This is the Season of the Belly Band. The stage in pregnancy where my belly wouldn't really hold up a maternity jean but my old clothes don't fit either.
This is also the “beer belly” stage, where people know something is different but would not guess its a baby. They're more likely to guess I really liked my pie over the holidays. Of course, no one says a word. They just cast sideways glances, wondering.
Likewise, it is a season of waiting and transition. I know a big change is coming to our lives, but it isn't realized yet. Might sink in more when I'm at the full-blown maternity clothes stage.
So, what does all this have to do with becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus?
The Season of the Belly Band is an awkward time when you transition from your comfortable old ways into this wild new thing called trusting Jesus.
Your old body (or old self) and your new body (or new self) are held together by a small strip of fabric around your middle. Read about the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20. Then you could compare the Belly Band to your Belt of Truth.
Your life before the Holy Spirit was conceived in you is like the pair of corduroys I squeeze into. It doesn't really fit anymore, but I don't know what else to wear yet. So, I leave the zipper undone and then cover it up with a belly band or secure the button closed with a hair tie.
The old life, old habits, old ways of thinking, even some old friendships (like my friendly corduroys) slowly fall away. For a time, we hold it together with a belly band. However, a day is coming when this New Life you've started in Christ swells up and grows and you can no longer look back, nor do you want to!
What used to feel like a glorious fit in those corduroys now feels like bondage. And I begin to see that new life needs new clothes (particularly ones made of spandex), otherwise known as Freedom!
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." -2 Corinthians 3:17-18
As sons and daughters of the Life-Giver, we are given the great privilege of bearing Life too. Jesus says that's why He came in the first place:
“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” -John 10:10
So when people are looking at you with sideways glances, recognizing that something is different about you but they can't quite figure it out and when things start feeling uncomfortable... hold on to what you know is Truth. You are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory! You are a new creation! You are a child of God now!
Wrap the truth of your identity in Christ around your waist like a belly band while you walk out this transition stage. And keep your eyes on Jesus as He ushers you towards the next stage: wholeness, freedom, a completely new creation.
The thing I've been trying to illustrate with belly bands is something that Sara Groves illustrates exquisitely in her song, “Painting Pictures of Egypt.” I played this song on repeat for months when I was first walking out the transition to becoming a new Christian. Here's the tube. Enjoy!
“The places that used to fit me
cannot hold the things I've learned,
those roads were closed off to me
while my back was turned.”
-"Painting Pictures of Egypt" by Sara Groves