Where can we find the power to change our lives? Many of us are “stuck” – trapped in negative outlooks, destructive habits, and unhappy relationships. Where can we find the transformation that we long for when this is the case?
In the last week, I’ve come across two remarkable stories of the difference that coming to committed faith makes in people’s lives. These are stories of the transforming power of encounter with the living God.
The first story I heard at a wedding. The parents of the groom grew up without any faith. I’ll call them Mike and Chris, though those are not their names. When their children were still young, their marriage was in such difficulty that they resolved to end it. They decided that the following Thursday night Mike would move out and they would go their separate ways.
On the Thursday morning they received a phone call from friends who had heard about their decision. The friends said, “We know what you’re planning to do, but we’ve got something we need to tell you. Please don’t do it; we’ll be around tonight to say what we need to say to you.” Mike and Chris agreed to delay their separation and to meet with them that night.
The friends arrived and explained that just a few days ago they had come to faith in Christ and they wanted to share with Mike and Chris the difference this had made in their lives. Mike and Chris listened, and that evening they also committed their lives to Christ.
Since then their lives and their marriage have flourished. They are a wonderful couple and the quality of their family life is obviously special.
Two days later I heard the second story. Matt was interviewed at a church service, and he shared some more of his story with me afterwards. Matt had grown up in a troubled home and had got into drugs and other destructive behaviour. In his late teens he was invited to a Christian youth camp, but had not the slightest inclination to go – until he heard there would be a rugby game at the camp. He was a pretty angry young man and said part of the attraction of the game was that it gave him a chance to “smash some Christians! ”
However, that night at the camp he had an overwhelming experience of God’s reality and love – an experience that began to revolutionize his life. His addictions to drugs, alcohol and violence fell away; his motivation and relationships were renewed. He’d been well-mentored, had done some study, and gone on to become a youth worker having a significant ministry in his city, and was happily married.
What made his story even more special was the flow-on effect in his birth family. His parents and siblings had come to faith as well and their lives and attitudes had been renewed.
Just thinking about these two stories puts a smile in my heart. And I’m reminded of the words of Jesus: “Look. I am making all things new!” (Rev. 21:5)