The last afternoon with my Christian friends at the east Europe get together was spent in a prayer meeting and heart sharing. I talked with them about things that I’ve needed to ask prayer for a long time. It was emotional for me. I said things I haven’t said to almost anyone for years. I was desperate for their prayers and for His grace. Perhaps it’s like the verse, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”. (Galatians 6:2)
Later a young east European man came up to me and asked if we could talk. Actually I’d shared a room with him the night before in the inn/hotel where the fellowship was being held. But he’d come in late and we hadn’t talked. He was a friend of some missionaries who’d come there and they invited him.
He told me that, when I’d shared my heart and asked for prayer earlier in the day, it very much troubled him. He’d fought back tears because he was going through exactly the same thing. Also, because I explaned some of my background, he said what he was going through right then was identical to a crisis I experienced around his age. He was very aware that we’d ended up in the same room together and that perhaps the most difficult experience in my life, years ago, was exactly what he was going through now.
He shared that his personal life had recently been more or less destroyed by events beyond his control. He was distraught, depressed and thinking thoughts of revenge, retribution and even violence.These are emotions that many people have felt at some of the worst times of their lives.
He had been brought up a Baptist but for one reason or the other, became dissatisfied and unfulfilled there. So he’d moved away from faith, applying God’s Word in his life or going to Him in prayer, at least for the most part.
So I shared one of the most poignant verses in the Bible for ones experiencing what he was right then. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good to them who the love the Lord, to them who are called according to His purpose.” For anyone going through the life-altering crisis this young man was going through, that verse is about as essential a truth as you can find in God’s Word. Another key Bible verse I shared with him is what Joseph said to his brothers who had virtually ended his life and sold him into slavery years before, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
This young man agreed with me that in a real sense, his life was over, at least most of what his life had been for the last 10 years. He was faced with two choices. He could try to hold on to what was gone, to change things that really couldn’t be changed or to get revenge for how he was wronged. That path would lead nowhere. He might end up in jail, dead or just to live the rest of his life, never recovering from this trauma and injustice he was experiencing.
Or he could call out desperately to God, embrace the truths of God’s Word and experience the Love of God that He would have for him in giving him a completely new start in life. Only God could do. Drugs and counseling could not reach the deepest place in his heart and heal and renew the deep pain and injury he was experiencing.
He was like a ship that had been torpedoed, a computer whose hard drive had crashed. But I could tell him from my own experience that this was something he could survive. “With man, it is impossible. But not with God, for with God, all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)
Perhaps the best thing was that he was really listening. He began to have hope that he’d not had. Over the 2 hours we talked, his whole “countenance”, the look on his face gradually changed from sadness and anger to one with more hope and even a smile. He did have a foundation in God’s Word. He did know the principles of God’s dealings with man, even if he’d not been applying them in his life for a while.
As we searched the Word together and talked into the evening, it was wonderful to see his mind come around towards the things of the Lord and to begin to have a vision where there had not been one, to have a healthy view of the future where there had only been hopelessness and temptations to violence.
It’s like the verse, “to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace”. (Romans 8:6) As we talked of the things of the Lord, the atmosphere just changed. The seed of God’s Word was falling on good ground. Or perhaps the Lord had to “break the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29) and root out the weeds of his life so that He Himself could give this man a new start, on the ruins of his former life. This dramatic event could actually be a new beginning for a new life for him, better than he’d ever known before,
I told him it would take time, years probably for this all to fully be in his past. There would be temptations every day to look back to what he had, how he’d been wronged, how much it all hurt. But that if he truly held on to the Lord like he had never done before, this all could be the beginning of something better than he’d ever experienced before.
So it turned into a wonderful evening and a wonderful day. It was a blessing for me to able to share my experiences with this new friend and to be, in a sense, living proof that what sometimes looks like “the end” can turn out to be just “a bend in the road” , if we keep holding on to Him.