Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool – Isaiah the Prophet
I had a Job moment last week. God so confronted me through a situation, that it left me reeling at the time, and has been turning over in the back of mind ever since. He has spoken out of the storm.
A man named Rob walked up our drive some months ago, he bought a surfboard. We talked to him, prayed with him and started Discovery Group. He was introduced to Jesus and we were thrilled. Then Rob fell off the wagon.
Initially, I thought it was alcohol, but as it turned out drugs were there too. A 3-day high consisted of a mix of heroine, cocaine and ice. The come down was not pretty. In between, the texts became abusive, insulting. What do you do, are we responsible for our actions or not? Our current no-fault society would say not. Still, we felt the Lord led him up our driveway, and so we tried to help.
After 3 months of cajoling on every side, we managed to get him in front of a someone who runs a rehab centre in Perth. This man oversees 200 addicts over 2 years, integrating them back into the workforce slowly, while breaking their dependence on hard drugs. He is a believer, and his success rate is unmatched anywhere. The only issue is, you do things his way, and his way is akin to a drill sergeant.
All this sounds easy of course, but it has been tumultuous for all concerned, a storm in our lives. Finally though, we had a 3 way conversation; me, Rob and Peter who runs the centre. Here’s how it went.
“Michael I want you to listen to this please. Rob, are you ready to turn your life around?” asks Peter
“I think so”
“Rob, I don’t deal in ‘think-so’s’ just answer yes or no. Are you ready to turn your life around?”
“So you will do whatever it takes to turn your life around then Rob?”
“Do you have the first 3 weeks rent you will need to stay at one of our homes? Do you have the money for the airfare to get here?”
So the conversation went. Until it came to the point where Peter explained the rules to Rob, carefully explaining that those who join and leave, don’t ever get a second chance. They leave because it is strict. There are simply too many people in the queue to get in in the first place.
“So what do you think of all that Rob, are you committed?”
“I think you sound like a f***wit mate,” came the response back.
“Don’t ever call me again please.” Click, gone. Forever.
I sat holding the phone to my ear for a few minutes, stunned. How could someone do that, throw away an opportunity, choose death over life, through their own arrogance, pride, reject the very offer of a way out of the turmoil in their lives? 1 in 30 people who applied, got to speak to this man.
Over the week, God has shown me gently what he deals with every moment. The sacrifice of his Son came at an enormous personal cost, yet through it we have a turn at life. The great God of the second chance. All we must do is humble ourselves enough to accept the terms. The healing, the turnaround begins immediately, sometimes dramatically. It lasts into eternity. One thing is for sure, we absolutely do not deserve it, and we cannot get our heads around how God gives it to us.
Yet, for so many, we throw it back in his face. The church changes the terms of the agreement, which are simply to turn and follow the Son. Instead, we dream up some ticket to heaven and then carry on living such that we become more identified with the world than we ever do with the Son. The world waves 2 fingers in the face of God, crying out, ‘how dare you tell me you’re going to judge me, I haven’t done anything wrong.’ The world is blinded, in denial.
God is left to do the only thing he can do, judge us for our terrible corruption. In the end, God will destroy us if we don’t turn and follow. Our label, whatever it is, will not save us.
The silver lining? We withdrew from Rob entirely, and he has since confessed his pride. We will take him, next week, to a rehab centre outside of Sydney. Not what we wanted, but who knows. If you remember, please pray. Up until the end, God doesn’t give up.