Never underestimate the power of God to change a human being. No matter who they are or where they’ve been. Personal breakthroughs, and associated breakdowns, are all around us. ♦
I had a friend recently tell me his whole story. I knew he had a rough upbringing and found Christian faith in his late twenties, but my goodness, I didn’t know the whole story. Makes one realize that there’s turnaround hope for everyone. Not that newfound faith in Christ is the end-all (actually, I believe it is the beginning!), but that the resulting newfound Life and Hope and Peace and Joy and Purpose and Impact is profound in a life that suddenly “got it” and became someone new and renewed.
We really shouldn’t be surprised at the turned-around life. The Bible contains several epic stories like the conversion of Paul (see Acts 9) from staunch, know-it-all Christian-hater turned prolific, loving evangelist who ended up writing almost 1/3 of the New Testament. Or there’s King David (see 1 Samuel 16 – 2 Samuel 24) converting from an adulterer/murderer to a man “after God’s own heart” forever immortalized in his writings of many Biblical Psalms. Or consider Ruth (see Ruth 1-4) who was a poor, heathen Moabite widow who converted to the faith of her Jewish mother-in-law and found new life in a new community, a new husband, and ultimately a new child, Obed, who would become the grandfather of King David and therefore in the messianic line of the Hebrew Messiah, Jesus.
In the New Testament we find several more but brief examples of converted lives of normal people touched by the power of God: Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:4-13)), the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40), Cornelius the military commander (Acts 10), and Lydia the Jewish businesswoman (Acts 16:14-16), to name just a few.
All of these, like my friend Joe (not his real name} with the sordid past, are mere people who found transforming faith in the God we all know really does exist but sometimes forget that He manifests today in mysterious and wondrous ways that can redirect, recharge, and resurrect broken lives into lives of purpose, strength, encouragement, and testimony to the power of the Living God.
And while Man is sometimes side-tracked, God is never thwarted. His love is patient and relentless, ever-waiting for us to give it up and come back home.
Joe the Street Kid
Joe grew up a poor white kid on the mean streets of a major bay area city. With troubled, alcoholic parents and a brief parochial school education – beaten and wall-slammed by cruel and disinterested teachers – he was kicked-out for defiance while suffering severe dyslexia. He ultimately left school with a less than stellar reading/comprehension level. He spent a lot of time with the tough kids on the street who nurtured the angry street-fighter in him and ultimately harvested a young operator selling joints and pills to neighborhood kids for dollars and hustling various business ventures.
A teenage kid with cash on hand and no supervision is a dangerous combination. Joe carried a revolver even into adulthood given the rough crowds with whom he associated. As an emerging young entrepreneur, he was street-wise and savvy and relied only on himself. And maybe some of his biker friends. He knew God only when he prayed “Help me, Jesus!” while running down a street escaping a shotgun blast directed at him and a friend.
He says he physically felt the Spirit of God with him at that moment. He just didn’t know what to do with it.
Tapped Out for Jesus
Joe says he would have responded to the Christian message if someone had ever told him about it. He states “Man, I would have tapped out for Jesus if someone shared the message.” He says “I knew God was out there. Just didn’t know the details about how to access Him and what it was all about.” He finally did meet a bold man who shared the Christian message and challenged him to follow Jesus and get delivered out of the dark world in which he was operating.
Joe went all in. He fully gave in – a breakdown of sorts. The kind that leads to a breakthrough.
He eventually founded and managed a million dollar a year business selling business services to global high-tech organizations. With his loving wife he also started a Christian ministry for men in conjunction with hundreds of pastors, lay-leaders and churches throughout California. The focus is on men being strong followers of Jesus for the sake of their wives, children, businesses, communities and churches. Today he operates smoothly between ministry and the professional business world in northern California.
God is very evident in all that he does.
Real Life Drama
Not every life story is as dramatic as Joe’s. His was a major breakthrough. But there are many stories around us of personal breakthroughs arising out of personal breakdowns. In fact, to have a legitimate new personal life as a revived Christian, a Christ-follower, one needs to experience a personal breakdown where the past life is acknowledged and destroyed and the new life is rebuilt and falls under new authority and management.
That kind of real and personal breakthrough is available to anyone who would submit to the God we all know is out there somewhere.
Have you had a breakdown and a breakthrough?
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. – 2 Corinthians 13:11