He grew up with a Christian family that attended church twice on Sunday and every Wednesday night. A nice boy. In high school he played football. His size and personality gave him opportunities. And with those attributes he made choices that lead to drinking and drugs and questionable activities. There was trouble inside of him he chose not to share. The habits grew stronger and stronger.
On the way down a decision was made to send him to rehab. His sister was very sad to hear the news and began to pray for him. Even after rehab it was several years before he realized the spiral of life had taken him to the lowest of places.
Marriage, children, arrests, and divorces happened. Along the way he finally realized that the God he heard about as a child loved him still and was the only way out. His sister had one of those tough-love conversations with him and she continued to pray. Two months later he had made the best decision he could--to give up and accept the love.
That man was thirsty and hungry so he found scripture in the Bible that filled him. It gave him hope and confidence but he still carried that dark spot inside. He didn't blame people for his actions and he took responsibility. Even when the ugly habits would tempt him to bury the hurt with a bottle, he would try again. And, again, God let him know how much he was loved.
Family, friends, spouses, alcohol, and drugs can’t fill the hole. Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father is the only resource to plug the emptiness, anger and vulnerability. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise” (Proverbs 13:20a, ESV). He chose people to walk alongside that would hold him accountable and encourage him.
Now that guy does the same for kids who, the world would say, have no chance of becoming anything but trouble. Maybe he sees himself in them. Maybe he knows that if he had ignored God he would be no better than those kids' parents are. Giving the kids from the crime infested area his gentle guidance and reflecting love and care is what fuels him. He doesn’t shower them with gifts they would never be able to have – he showers them with Godly guidance sprinkled with street wisdom.
His family didn’t save him.
His pastor didn’t save him.
His friends didn’t save him.
What happened in the past is just that – the past. The present is here and the future is in God’s hands. Having trust that Jesus is with us every step is the only way we can get away from the ugly past.
Our earthly family and friends come and go but God sticks with us. Our choices may be disastrous but God never thinks we are too far gone.
Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. (Isaiah 55:7 NLT)