Thursday, September 6, 2007

Changed Lives

On Tuesday and Wednesday I had two meetings with people that were a strong reminder that God is at work, changing lives. One person I met was a stranger, another has become a good friend. And yet their stories were similar in that God chose to show His grace in amazing ways. Let me summarize...

One of the persons I talked to had struggled with substance abuse and addictions since very early in his teen years. He had spent years in detention centers. Can you imagine the pain? And yet through some "coincidences" (I don't believe in those, by the way), God had opened his eyes to the good news that He forgives sinners. This wasn't an "I found Jesus" moment, that you hear about and question. This was a "God found me and my life hasn't been the same" moment. He stopped by our church and requested that God would continue a work in his life.

The other person was a person I baptized 4 or 5 years ago. I remember baptizing him and his wife. God had changed their lives immediately. God had rescued them both out of a life of emptiness and pain. I remember him sharing that he and his wife had begun to read their Bible (the New Testament) out loud together. I said, "Where are you reading?" And he said, "We have read through those first books (meaning Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and we are reading Acts now." They had been following Christ for less than 2-3 weeks. Amazing. Years later, they are still strong in their faith.

Why do I share those stories? Because God is a God that is mighty to save. He rescues people. I also share the stories because they remind me that salvation is not just about a one-time prayer. God has told us to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). A disciple is one who follows Jesus no matter the cost. That is what has happened in both of the lives I described above. I closed both conversations, praying with confidence that God would finish what He has begun in all of our lives (Philippians 1:6).

I wonder how many lives in the Newark area need to be rescued. I am thankful that God is merciful, and can change lives.