Are there people you bump into in public or places that you pass by that make you stop dead in your tracks? The very sight of the person or place conjures up painful memories from the past. One glimpse suddenly unlocks a vault deep down in your soul that reopens an embarrassing chapter in your life. Shame, guilt and failure are powerful forces to overcome. Yet, God can use such things to completely transform our lives.
Chuck Colson, who died earlier this year, is a perfect example. God used the Watergate scandal and a federal prison sentence to humble this arrogant advisor to President Nixon. Colson said it took these events to soften his heart to receive the transforming message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After leaving the White House one day in 1973, he sat in his car and began to cry so hard he couldn’t get the keys into the ignition. This former Marine remembered sitting there as he faced the prospect of prison “for a long time that night deeply convicted of my own sin.” With the help of a Christian friend and C.S. Lewis’ great book Mere Christianity, Colson surrendered his life to Jesus.
Some would view such a conversion with skepticism. They might scoff that Colson’s claim was simply meant to conjure up sympathy and a softer jail sentence. But, the way Colson lived the second half of his life proves his conversion was genuine. God transformed this Ivy League educated political mastermind into a man who championed the cause of prison reform. Colson founded a ministry called Prison Fellowship that has helped many criminals find faith in Jesus and given them tools to live a new life once they finish their sentence.
As we turn to Genesis 28:10-22, we come to a pivotal story in the life of Jacob. He’s running from a scandal in his family and he’s about to encounter the only One capable of turning his life around. Maybe you’ve got a scandal in your past or in your present that you’re running from. What God does in Jacob’s life is a paradigm for what He can do in yours. The best thing that can happen for people who are running from their past is to run right into God!
This article is an excerpt from my sermon series in Genesis. All are welcome to join us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 am. Lighthouse Community Baptist Church is located at 22 Pequot Trail in Pawcatuck.