I met a guy named Rusty once. Rusty was the epitome of a desperate man. He was on his last string ready to give up on life. He was struggling and couldn't find answers anywhere but the bottle, and when he walked into the church late on a Wednesday night, he was ready to end it all.
You could see the desperation in his eyes. He was so ashamed and embarrassed. He was seeking help as a last chance effort. So I did my best. I got him in contact with someone that could help, and together we took Rusty to the hospital.
From there, I moved on. All I knew was that he detoxed at the hospital and they got him connected with a rehab facility in Missouri. Honestly, I was just glad he made it through the night.
Not a week later I saw Rusty again. I needed to pick him up at the bus station because he was coming home to get his car that he left at the church. He’d spent maybe 5-6 days at rehab in Missouri...
Sometimes the Glory of God is overwhelming. Sometimes God shakes us to the bone. Sometimes all you can do is smile because of how great God is. Words simply do not work.
When I saw Rusty the second time, it could not have been a more opposite situation. Transformation at its best! Rusty was radiating with joy. It was contagious and amazing. He sounded like a man who had sat with God for 5-6 days.
In the days after meeting this new Rusty, I remember feeling jealous of how desperate he was because in his weakness and humility he truly found Christ. In such a desperate place, he gave all of himself to God.
But the truth is, I really am as desperate for God as Rusty. I may not realize it most days or want to admit it, but just as much as Rusty needed the power of God to work in him, so do I need God’s power to work miracles in me.
Written by Mark
I spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in a most unorthodox way: smack dab in the middle of a Rocky movie marathon. This wasn’t planned, and there wasn’t one on TV you missed somewhere along the way. No. This happened because my husband (after almost 19 years of marriage) found out I had never seen any of the Rocky movies.
According to him, that was sacrilegious. Un-American. (Can you see the eye-roll here?)
So, I agreed to watch, not having a single idea what to expect. We watched all 6 movies, starting with Rocky and ending with Rocky Balboa. And you know what? I really enjoyed them. The Rocky movies were so much more than movies about boxing. They told stories of family, of competitors turned friends, of love, and of redemption.
Somewhere towards the beginning of Rocky 4, a conversation between Rocky and Apollo Creed resonated deeply with me. After asking his one-time competitor and now friend if he would stand by him, Apollo says:
“Maybe you think you're changing...but you can't change what you really are. Forget all this money and stuff around you. It don't change a thing. You and me don't even have a choice. We're born with a killer instinct you can't turn off and on like a radio.”
In that specific moment, Apollo is talking about their love of the fight, their innate need to be in the ring. But that one line spoke so much deeper to me, because it is the fear that I believe many of us have. We want to change. We know we need to change. But, we fear we can’t.
Health. Relationships. Personal goals. Education. Jobs. The list goes on and on of things we want to change.
This movie marathon reminded me that those things that seem insurmountable to change alone are very much doable with others by our side. Maybe it’s an accountability partner, maybe a spouse, maybe a friend. But even as beneficial as they are, and having someone with you helps tremendously, we are not alone even without them.
The best news of all is that we never have to attempt a change alone; we have the power of God beside us, with us, guiding each and every one of our steps. Hebrews 4:13 tells us, “There is no creature hidden from His sight but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."
When we admit the things we know we need to change, acknowledge that nothing is hidden from God, and approach Him with honesty, faith, and trust, His grace is given freely.
It is through God’s grace we are redeemed, and through His grace we are changed. Grace transforms us. As 2nd Corinthians reminds us, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (5:17)."
Let 2016 be a year you are transformed. Change isn’t easy but it happens; little by little, day by day, we make changes in our lives. Even Rocky recognized that by the end of the movie:
“What I'm trying to say is...
Written by Marisa
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.