Growing up in a small town in the Midwest was an amazing experience for me. Running around outdoors, playing with all my neighborhood buddies, experiencing life without boundaries, and being accountable for our actions and behaviors were all part of my childhood. Rearing a child took a village in my small community. There was an underlying rule that if we chose to behave badly – it would somehow get back to our parents. With that in mind, as our community grew in population, even the newcomers were held to these same standards. When you moved in, you immediately figured out that if you were a troublemaker – you would be revealed. That is tough. Labels are hard to break.
In high school, I can remember a friend of mine moving in his sophomore year. He and his sister (Holly) were exact opposites. Lance made friends easily and was drawn to the wild crowd. His sister also made friends easily, but she aspired to keep her grades up and still find time to socialize (with boundaries). Lance and Holly were a great pair. The brother-sister duo intrigued me. Holly down the road, would become one of my best friends. We would be maid of honor for each other later in life, we would experience rearing our children together, and even from hundreds of miles away we would continue to connect our lives because we truly cared for each other that much. These two would be life-long friends.
Lance got married at an early age and struggled through life. He had three beautiful children, and unfortunately his marriage ended in divorce. Last year, Lance had a terrible accident. He dove into a swimming pool, while playing around with his girlfriend’s family members, and suffered a terrible neck injury. It was a life threatening accident that almost cost Lance his life. Many prayers went up for Lance’s recovery. The good news is: Lance was able to walk and recover (although chronic pain plagues him). Because of this accident (and I believe Lance was on the road to God anyway), Lance found God. God and Lance were reunited in a miraculous way.
Why am I telling you all this? Because Lance sent me a letter just a few weeks ago: he is headed to India on a mission trip with his church. Due to his injury, Lance has been unable to return to work. Did he sit around and feel sorry for himself or wallow in his pain? No, Lance has taken action and is moving on to do God’s work. I have never been so excited for the transformation in Lance. He will now take this new found love of God and through his actions – God will shine through.
I John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
You see, when you have friendships that last a lifetime, you realize that people can change. It took Lance a lot of years to turn around his partying ways. I like to think that all those adventures that Lance had before he found God – formed and molded him into the man he is today. God will be using Lance in great ways.
Don’t ever think that it is too late to turn your life around – it isn’t. I think the hardest part for Lance was leaving behind those relationships that reinforced his party days. Turning his heart to God was easy, but releasing those “friends” that didn’t support this new life was probably difficult for Lance. He has found a new life today that is fulfilling enough to release the old and to be transformed into the new. I am so proud of him.
His mom sent me some pictures of him taking off for his great adventure to India. He will be transformed once again by people who need to hear and see Christ in others. I cannot wait for his return to hear all about this wonderful experience.
You don’t have to go on a mission trip to experience a transformation like Lance. You can do it right here and right now. Yes, there will be people who still remember your old self and dwell on the past, but God won’t . He will take you as you are – a sinner looking for His love. God has no preconceived notions – He always knew who you were inside. He sees you through the bad choices.
He loves you through the days that you choose to push Him away. He never dwells on the bad, He always finds the good. Accept his invitation to change today!
Psalm 37:23-24 If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.