Posted by: mikenicholsblog | May 31, 2015

power to change a life

Stories of the characters from Scripture give us all pause to think about our lives in relationship to theirs. We are less apt to want to look at the lives of those hurting around us because we think that could be us. Furthermore, we often default to a logic that says some people will never change. I trust you will take the comments of an earlier archived article and think about God’s power to change a life.

Last week was spent traveling with a great friend and business associate. Our commonality in business and especially faith made the week more bearable for me. During one of the rare times during the week that we weren’t together, I passed through an intersection that had disadvantaged people wanting help. One of those requesting help with her sign was a young pregnant woman. To my shame, I characterized her life with less than loving judgement and kept going. I guess I had forgotten that I was raised in a home ravaged with alcohol, and saw my father (though very loving) have his career and life cut very short. I have thought about that young pregnant woman since last Tuesday, and I realize that my quick judgment was callous to her pain, and blind to her spiritual potential. When you look at those on the curb, or those in your life, do you look with eyes of judgment or spiritual potential?

Ten years ago another great friend and former work associate was anything but a Christian.   It would have been easy to doubt that he would ever see the Light. But in a great way, God changed his life.  And I often tell him, one thing you can’t deny is “the testimony of a changed life.” He has been transformed from a worldly and self-centered man to one who possesses a passionate faith and who is a selfless giver. Was he ever too far gone?! … not for God! I knew him as a casual friend at that point, but had no thoughts that one day his joyful faith would consistently challenge mine.

Every person reading this post has sung the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace” countless times. But if we had known the author early in his life, there is no doubt that we would have doubted he would become a man of faith. We would have definitely passed by this dude on the curb. John Newton was a ruthless slave trader, and captained his own ship. It was during a violent storm at sea that he had “a great deliverance.” His life was remarkably changed and generations have benefited from that change. Note the first verse of Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

John Newton knew grace and knew that God had “sav’d a wretch like me.” Even though we don’t doubt God’s ability, would we have been calloused to Newton’s pain and blind to his spiritual potential? With judgmental eyes it would have been easy to look at a vile, ruthless slave trader and never envision what God could do. For me (and maybe you), it is too easy to pass by the hurting and forget that except for the grace of God, that could be us.  I am thankful that God stretched out his arms of grace, and changed that wretch called Newton into a redeemed servant of God. God has used him to touch the world through his great hymn. And just think, you and I may have just passed him by!

Now, my purpose is not to challenge you to stop traffic when you see a pregnant woman holding a sign looking for help. But I would challenge you (and me) to be less callous to the hurting and blind to their spiritual potential. And if that includes stopping traffic, then do it! Also, think about those in your life that need the Lord. Have you ever doubted if they would trust the Savior? The personal story of my friend and the historical tale of John Newton are evidence of God’s incredible life-changing love. He gave His best, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for all of us, and all our sins. The truth is we are all sinners, wretches if you would, and are only changed by faith in Christ.

So today, if you know Him, give thanks that “you were blind, but now you see.” And don’t doubt that those on the curb and those you love can have their eyes opened too. Pray with faith for them, and never doubt. I trust and pray that one day you will smile when that person that once was lost, is now found.


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