As you know, one part of the ministry the Lord has entrusted to me is helping people who have stumbled, or even dove into a pile of ruined life, to get up and get going for Jesus in a new start. That the ministry suffers a high failure rate is often a bullet shot at me, but this is true about any ministry geared to help the truly hurting, no matter who or what is at fault. Here’s the quote to chew on for a while:
“I have hope in people, in individuals. Because you don’t know what’s going to rise from the ruins.” Joan Baez.
Well, truth be known, the Lord encourages the helping of those who are stuck in some form of quagmire to get a lift out, figure out how they got there, and take future precautions and get on with living for Jesus. God’s grace demonstrates that He is the God of the second chance and even the third, fourth or fifth, whatever it takes. On occasion He shows us the power of someone we counted gone, dead in the water, no longer useful, and wouldn’t you know, the counted out one comes bouncing back.
One of my favorite quotes is from a famous warden (considering everything, it’s hard for me to quote a warden) of an even more famous prison. After concluding a speech at a Rotary Club luncheon, a man approached Warden Clinton Duffy and said, “Sir, your speech is all well and good, but I don’t believe a leopard can change its spots.” Warden Duffy responded, “Sir, you are right, a leopard cannot change its spots, but men can and do change. I see it every day.” Mr. Duffy operated on the biblical/Baez principle of rescuing people, or at least trying to. When you do this, you will, on occasion, get a pleasant surprise as you watch and participate in someone rising from the ruins.
Most people, in this part of the country at least, are aware of the escapades of Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, which made national headlines. Jim is now in rehab, going through a thoroughly brutal divorce and being put through the grinder in the local press and daily blabber shows.
Did you know that during the flaming heat of this scandal, one Peyton Manning came to see and attempt to encourage his former boss? Yep, Write him off Jim, was encouraged by Peyton. I near wept when I read this. Most decent people wouldn’t get within ten miles of Jim, but the football player became the social and spiritual hope of the disgraced owner. Some story here, to be sure. I pray that Jim can get over the escapade and go on to some local greatness in spite of the event. His diving into the mire need not be the defining act of his time in the Midwest.
I say this because I have lived long enough to agree with Baez, “You never know what may rise from the ruins.”
Christ went around welcoming some of the most heinous characters you can imagine, and often when this is mentioned, someone will point out, “Yes, this is true, but keep in mind He knew the end from the beginning.” The idea behind this statement is simply, He took no risk. This is not true. On one occasion He worked a marvelous miracle which you can read about yourself in Luke 17:17,” And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”
The story tells of ten lepers who were healed and only one came to thank Him. Truth be known that stat is about par for the course in many cases to healing or salvation today. “Where are the nine” is the question of the critics of evangelism and also of the critics of those who oppose the helping of modern figurative lepers. I have no idea where the nine happen to be, but I do thank Almighty God for the one who rises from the ruins.
A young man came to my office not long ago and began to thank me for sticking my neck out and helping a man who was really going through the fire. The man had been this young man’s pastor for years. While fighting back a tear he said to me, “Brother Lilly, I will never find words to thank you enough for helping my pastor. I sang in his new church a while ago and the Lord really walked among us, and the place is full of rescued people. They know of God’s grace to the pastor and know Christ will help them to rise from the ruins as you said in your sermon.”
Wow! Just one here and there makes it all worthwhile. Notice the words of Jesus in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” And often, as in the case of Peter, He will come after you! John 21:15-17.
Copyright © 2014 Larry Lilly
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