I woke up today in somewhat of a sentimental mood. It started with me thinking about the past week, then the past month, then it escalated to a reflection of the past several years. My life is full.
Yes, I have always had challenges and obstacles just like everybody else in this broken world, but somewhere along the way my perspective shifted. Since I cannot identify a single event or moment of change, my reasoning tells me it has been a process over time.
Without thinking very hard, I can recall a season in my life when I was unsettled, frustrated, and uncertain. It was a long season spanning several years. At the time, I had no clue as to why, but now I know the cause of that confusion. I was trying to follow my own dreams, create my own destiny, and control everything in my path. I said I knew the Lord, but I only knew about Him. I said He was first in my life, but I rarely sought His counsel. I went to church, I went to bible studies, I prayed. I honestly thought I loved Him, but it was a shallow love. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” I only kept them when they didn’t get in my way.
Then a miracle happened. I went to prison. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. In prison, I experienced humiliation, depression, and despair. I thought I had ruined my life—which was true. In every area where I was striving to make life be what I wanted it to be, the fruit was rotten.
The good news is that I soon rediscovered the Good News. I decided to stop living life on my terms and instead live it on God’s terms. It was easier than I thought. When a person gets to the end of themselves, and they realize they are absolutely broken, the inner fight to oppose a new way is not that strong.
Twenty-six (or so) years ago, I started down this new path with very little expectation, just a positive attitude of, “Well, Lord, if you can use me. Here I am.”
There is an old church song that goes something like... “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. I’ll say what you want me to say... I’ll be what you want me to be.” Somewhere in my inner being, I began to understand that life was not about me, but about Him. I realized it wasn’t about what I could get, but what I could give. Then the big question arose, “How can I give something to Him? Everything I have, He gave to me.” My conclusion was that the most practical way I could give something to God was through the expression of giving to others. And the best I could give to others was through the best He had given to me: the encouragement to live a life fully submitted to Him.
That is the core of everything we do and teach in this ministry.
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Life is about Him and them... God and others. It’s not about me. If I get to be used by Him to help them, that is the greatest honor, and that is a full life.
John 10:10b (NLT)
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Every week I experience the privilege of hearing and reading testimonies of how God is working in other people’s lives. I hear it at church, I hear it in prison, I read it in letters. My fruit is no longer rotten. To be honest, it’s not even my fruit. It’s God’s fruit, and it is beautiful. Isn’t it amazing that the Creator of the universe lets us plant some seeds and do a little watering to enjoy a sense of purpose while we are here? God is good.
Each month as I write these newsletters, I feel like I am falling short in explaining the positive impact you are making on hundreds of people’s lives through your prayers and support of this ministry. It is impossible to quantify spiritual effectiveness. I do not have large numbers to report because I have no way of knowing what they might be. I do know that both evil and good can spread exponentially. In our case, we are seeing a very positive domino effect in individual lives and in the lives of their families through God’s transforming power.