Listening to the Coach

“My wife says I don’t listen,” a husband remarked, “or at least I think that’s what she said. I really wasn’t listening.”

Listening is a valuable, and sometimes, difficult skill.

We live in a noisy world. Many messages and ideas are clamoring for an audience, and it is difficult to tune in and listen. Distractions try to grab our attention while we’re listening, and it can be a struggle. Listening is vital to success though, so it is a skill you and I must continually sharpen.

No matter the goal, listening will be a part of achieving it. Colleagues must listen to one another to complete a project. A salesperson can only identify a customer’s needs if he or she listens. A husband can only understand his wife’s needs if he listens. A wife can only understand her husband’s dreams if she listens. In a deafening stadium, a team can only hear the play if they listen to the coach.

 

Teams must listen to the coach. Someone must call plays and send the team in the right direction, and success is found when the team listens. Listening is an essential skill for success.

Jesus understood the importance of listening, which is why he called fishermen. Fishermen know how to take orders. They know how to listen to the coach.

Fishermen know how to listen to the coach.

Jesus called fishermen to be his disciples because they knew how to listen. He would offer instruction or direction, and the disciples would go to work without questioning his authority. Here are 3 examples.

1. Simon and Andrew responded immediately to Jesus.

Mark 1:18 says, “When Jesus called Simon and Andrew, at once they left their nets and followed him.”

Simon and Andrew responded immediately to Jesus. Some situations require an immediate response to instructions.

2. The nets were put down after a fishless night.

Luke 5:4-6 records, “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Now go out where it is deeper, and let down the nets to catch some fish.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing, but if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.’ And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear.”

The disciples performed an action because Jesus gave a direction. I’ve often wondered how this account would be different if the fishermen had delayed in lowering the nets. Simon and his team lowered the nets simply because Jesus said to put them down.

3. A fishless night ended when the disciples placed the net on the opposite side of the boat.

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples at the end of a fruitless night of fishing.

“He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish,” according to John 21:5-6.

Listening yielded great results. Jesus called fishermen because they knew how to listen to the coach.

The fishermen Jesus called were not dumb; they were not puppets reacting at the pull of a string. They understood when it was appropriate to ask questions and when it was necessary to just act. As fishermen, they understood sometimes the difference between failure and success is the width of the boat and the time it takes to get to the other side. Listening was a characteristic Jesus desired.

Take time to listen.

Listening is still a desired characteristic. It is okay to ask questions and try to understand methodology, but sometimes, it is vital to simply listen to the Lord.

  • Proverbs 1:5 advises, “Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance.”
  • In Psalm 46:10, the Lord says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

We live in a world filled with noise and chatter, which makes it hard to listen. However, victory can come through listening to the Lord.

One way to sharpen this skill is scheduling a noise and distraction free time each day. Use the time to read Scripture and pray. The quiet will provide an opportunity to hear what the Lord is saying.

Listening is also vital for successful relationships. Here are 10 steps to effective listening, which may help sharpen your skills.

Fishermen were good listeners, and listening is a valuable characteristic.

Acting

How good of a listener are you? Take a small step today to sharpen your listening skills. It may be turning off distractions while reading, putting down your phone when someone is talking with you, or slowing your pace to absorb what is being said. Share the steps you are taking to become a better listener in the comments below.

Know someone who would benefit from this post? Please share it.

 

Fishermen throwing a net while standing on a boat

Why Fishermen? They Can Relate.

“I don’t think I’m going to go to church any longer,” Beth told her mom from the passenger’s seat. The two were pulling out of the church’s parking lot after attending a Sunday morning service. Beth, a college Sophomore, was home for the weekend, and her mom, Vicki, thought it would be nice if the two attended a church service.

Beth went on to explain, “It’s not that I don’t believe in God. I do; I believe God exists. I’m just not sure God is in there with those people.”

Vicki replied, “Yeah, I see what you are saying. I wonder that too.”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus called fishermen? Jesus would have had his pick of people to call, and he chooses to call fishermen. He did not call scholars, individuals well versed in the Old Testament, or religious leaders; 7 of the first 12 disciples were fishermen. Jesus called them because they possessed characteristics, he found desirable. Jesus called fishermen because they were relatable.

Fishermen are relatable.

Jesus spent most of his time outside the synagogue, and the religious leaders would often become upset because of the class of people around him.

Luke 15:1-2 says, “Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear Jesus, but the Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus was relatable, and he called fishermen. They were also relatable. Fishermen were hard working, had families to support and bills to pay, and could easily relate to the stresses of everyday life. The fishermen Jesus called didn’t completely understand the Bible or everything taking place, but they could relate to the people who came.

As word concerning Jesus spread, people from all walks of life came to hear his message and accept his invitation of grace. Most people who came to hear Jesus were ordinary folks. They were fishermen, tax collectors, shop owners, government officials; they were moms and dads. They were individuals who had to work today to eat tomorrow. And the fishermen, turned disciples, could relate.

Christians need to be relatable.

Beth and Vicki were struggling because they did not feel they related to the people at church, and maybe the people at church did not feel like they could relate to Beth and Vicki; however, a relationship fostered outside the church walls might reveal lots of common ground. Christians, in many ways, are like the fishermen.

As word concerning Jesus still spreads, it is still ordinary folks who come to hear his message and accept his invitation of grace. Those coming are assembly line workers, customer service representatives, administrative professionals, salespeople; those coming are moms and dads and their families. They desire to find someone who relates to them; someone who has bills to pay and understands the stresses of life.

God called us because we are those people. We are the people who can relate. We are the ordinary folks. We are the friends and neighbors who can relate.

You may feel you have nothing to offer, but you do.

You may feel you have no insight to give, but you do.

You may feel like your story cannot encourage or inspire anyone, but it does.

You and I are relatable to the people around us, and we are how they see the Lord. Jesus didn’t call fishermen because they were experts; he called them because they could relate to people. You and I don’t have to be experts; you and I just need to be ourselves.

Acting

Be intentional with your relationships today. Allow someone to relate to the Lord through you today. It may be through a kind word, generous act, or simple and polite interaction.

Know someone who may benefit from this post? Please share it with him or her.

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a stack of folded newspapers

Offering Grace

She’s on a journey to forgive her rapist.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

These are certainly attention-grabbing headlines, and they start telling the stories of horrific pain and tremendous loss, but they do more. We are not only captivated by the heart wrenching tragedy but the victim’s response.

Each of these stories is an incredible illustration of grace. Each victim offers forgiveness to an individual who did the unthinkable. In turn, serving as an illustration to us.

As Christians, we are encouraged to offer forgiveness, and C. S. Lewis says, “Everyone believes forgiveness is a grand idea until he has something to forgive.” Forgiving can be one of the hardest things you and I are asked to do, but it can also be one of the most liberating.

I’m far from perfect, and I do not have this part of the Christian journey completely figured out. I was encouraged to explore it some more by these stories, and I hope you are as well.

She’s on a journey of forgiveness after rape.

Beverly had a supposed friend who worked for the state. He requested some of her time, and they scheduled an appointment. Entering Beverly’s home under the façade of needing her time, the man took much more than her time; he raped her.

He successfully denied and covered up the act, and he continued to move up the political ladder. Beverly would see him on the news, encounter him at parties, and would be upset.

Two years after the rape, Beverly met a friend who told her of Christ’s forgiveness and protection. Beverly decided to accept Christ’s invitation of grace and begin the journey of maximizing Christ in her life and healing from the hurt caused by the rapist. The Journey may not be completed, but it is started. Beverly’s story is told in Facing Your Giants.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

Victoria Ruvolo was on her way home in November 2004. She was returning home after attending a family member’s recital, and it was late, and driving was a little difficult because of the freezing rain. The car she was about to pass may have caught her attention, but she doesn’t remember. The teenage boy hanging out the window may have caught her attention, but again, she does not remember. Nor does she remember seeing the 20-pound frozen turkey the boy was holding in his hand.

The boy launched the turkey at Victoria’s car, smashing her windshield, bending the steering wheel inward, and breaking every bone in her face. Victoria’s face suffered extensive damage and had to be completely restructured.

It took an 8-hour surgery and 3-week hospital stay to even begin the road to recovery. While Victoria was recovering, the wheels of justice were spinning, and the public was voicing outrage at the crime.

Fast forward to August 2005 and enter the court room. The young man who launched the turkey pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received a sentence of 6 months behind bars, 5 years’ probation, community service, and counseling. The lenient sentence is given at the request of Victoria.

She too was in the court room, and after the hearing, Victoria and the young man came face to face. Both sobbing, Victoria said, I forgive you. I want your life to be all it can be.” The pain and agony caused to Victoria was met with grace and mercy. Victoria’s story is told in Captured by Grace.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

In October 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse and ordered the teacher, teacher’s assistant, and boys to leave. The 10 girls in the class were left alone with the gunman. He covered the windows and was planning for a long siege, but as state police officers surrounded the schoolhouse, he shot the girls and killed himself. 5 girls died, and the other 5 were severely wounded. This was not the only part of the story which made headlines though.

The Amish community publicly forgave the gunman. They befriended the gunman’s wife and children. Marie Monville, the gunman’s wife, recalls to CNN the community showered her family with gifts. They waived at her on the way to the bus stop, and they even attended her husband’s funeral. The families, who were victims of a heinous and unthinkable act, offered grace. Monville tells her story in One Light Still Shines.

Acting

As I mentioned, I do not have forgiveness completely figured out. The individuals in these stories are true illustrations of offering grace to one another, and they encourage me to explore offering forgiveness. I hope they do you as well.

Join me in learning the act of forgiveness and experiencing the liberation it brings.

Please share this post with anyone you believe would find it encouraging.

 

a crowd of people walking

10 Practical Ways to Imitate Compassion

His occupation is beggar, and he has secured a prime spot. The road he sits beside each day is heavily traveled, and it is one of the best spots to be a beggar. He hears the stories about Jesus as he sits there; the stories of Jesus healing people and performing all kinds of miracles, and he wonders if Jesus could help him.

One day the traffic is unusually heavy. At first, he thinks it will be a large collection day. All those people in town would result in much more given. It turns out it is an extraordinary day. Jesus is in town, and now is his shot.

So, Bartimaeus starts shouting for Jesus to have mercy on him. People around him tell him to shut up, but he shouts more until Jesus hears him.

Jesus stops, calls Bartimaeus, and heals his eye condition. Jesus has compassion on him.

We live in a world filled with hurt. There is much need for compassion, and the Lord is compassionate. We are encouraged to imitate his compassion, so here is the picture of what we are to imitate and practical ways we can be imitators. Here are a few more times Jesus demonstrates his compassion.

The Lord is compassionate.

Luke 7 records Jesus and his disciples entering a town. As they were approaching the gate, a dead man was being carried out. The man’s mother, a widow, was following him overwhelmed with sorrow. Luke says, “When Jesus saw her, his heart went out to her.” He was so moved by compassion it drove him to action. Jesus raised her son.

Mark 1:40-42 records a man with leprosy coming to request help from Jesus. Mark tells us Jesus was moved by the situation. Jesus became angry at the man’s situation. He was not angry with the man, but the man’s situation. He healed the man, and Mark says, “immediately, the man’s leprosy left him. Jesus was so moved by compassion that it drove him to action.

Jesus doesn’t just feel sorry for folks. His compassion drives him to action. It drives him to do something about their situation. When Jesus sees people hurting, he takes steps to help them.

So what?

We are encouraged to show compassion as Jesus shows compassion.

Luke 6:36 says, “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.”

Acting

Here are 10 practical ways you and I can show compassion.

  1. Pray for those in need.
  2. Volunteer at a food pantry.
  3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  4. Provide transportation to a neighbor in need.
  5. Offer to pick up groceries or a prescription for a neighbor who has difficulty getting out of her home.
  6. Volunteer with a relief organization to do local projects.
  7. Check on a neighbor to make sure he is doing okay during an extreme weather event.
  8. Try to have a conversation with someone who seems lonely.
  9. Send a card or encouraging note to a friend you know is struggling.
  10. Offer a bit of grace to someone.

How are you going to show compassion today?

What are some other ways we can show compassion?

Share in the comments below, and if you know someone who would find this post encouraging, please share it.

 

crowd of people enjoying a concert

Just ComeHome

It was time. It was time for Daniel to make a dreaded phone call, and the only place to get privacy in a frat house is the bathroom. Humiliated and sitting on the lid of the toilet, a stack of porn magazines in the corner, Daniel starts to dial the number, but he stops.

“I can’t do this,” he tells himself. “There’s no way they will understand. I’ve really messed up this time.”

Daniel was a college freshman and thought classes would be easy. Ignoring the advice of his parents, Daniel joined a fraternity a couple weeks after arriving on campus. Life was fun until he failed all his classes and lost his scholarship. He had gone as far as he could go, and now it was time to make the dreaded phone call.

“But there is no way they are going to understand,” he kept telling himself. “I’ve messed everything up. I didn’t listen to their advice, and I’ve just messed everything up. What am I going to do?”

After about 30 minutes, Daniel decided he had to call. So, he picked up his phone, dialed the number, and his parents answered.

He told them what happened, and they immediately responded. “Just come home,” they encouraged. “Just come home, and we’ll figure everything out once you get here.”

Daniel’s parents show us a picture of grace. They are an illustration of God’s grace. “Just come home,” they say. It doesn’t matter how badly Daniel has messed up. Daniel, their son, is hurting, so they just want him home. Everything else can be pieced together after he gets home.

You might be Daniel. You might be the one needing to make the dreaded phone call. If so, the Lord will respond in the same way Daniel’s parents responded. “Just come home,” he says. “We’ll figure out the rest after you get here.” God’s grace is unconditional love, which invites us to come home.

 

My thought for Daniel’s story originated with The Easter Experience.

Lurking Monsters Don’t Live Under the Bed

“I keep my faith intact. Make sure my prayers are said. Cause I’ve learned the monsters ain’t the ones beneath the bed.”

I love how the Lord’s message can be wrapped in the lyrics of a song. For me, it has a way of grabbing my attention and driving home a point.

Monsters by Eric Church is one such song.

BUY the album Desperate Man at Amazon

The song reminds us there are “monsters” lurking for an opportune time to ambush us. Every mistake cannot be avoided. You and I will mess up, but the Lord will be there to help us. We should keep our faith intact and our prayers said to defeat the “monsters” that do not live beneath the bed.

What is grace?

What is grace? Ask 20 people this question, and you will receive multiple answers.

Completely understanding God’s grace is difficult for us, so you and I may have doubts concerning the reality of God’s forgiveness. Here are 6 workable definitions of God’s grace, a picture of his grace, and how grace plays into our lives.

Here are 6 practical definitions of God’s grace.

1. God’s unmerited favor.

We do nothing to earn grace. God gives it to those who ask.

2. Unconditional Forgiveness.

In this way, grace is inclusive. God invites us to come as we are; grace meets us at our place and helps us get to a better place.

3. God’s one-way love to us.

A person may not love the Lord right now, but the Lord loves him or her. It is out of his love the invitation to grace is extended.

4. Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person.

You and I are invited to come as we are. Our lives do not have to be perfect before grace comes into play. The Lord meets us where we are and takes us to a better place. Whether we do or do not deserve grace is not a question the Lord asks. He invites us all.

5. Grace sets us free.

Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom Christ has set us free.”

Grace can help us live a more fulfilling life.

6. Grace is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed, and you can not take credit for this. It is a gift from God.”

Here is a picture of grace.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of a son wanting his father’s money. The son goes to his father and asks for his share of the inheritance. In the context of Jesus’ story, inheritance was usually given upon a parent’s death. So, the son is basically saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead. Give me your money.”

The father agrees and gives the young man his portion of the estate. The young man leaves home, plays hard in life for a time, and looses all his money. Fast forward a little, and we find the young man caring for pigs with nothing to eat.

Hungry and watching the pigs eat, the young man decides to try going home. He feels his father will at least let him be a servant. He does not believe being a son again is an option after the way he has acted. He heads for home, and the father’s response is a true picture of grace.

The father sees his son coming down the road, so he runs to meet and embrace him. Picture the scene Jesus paints. The smelly, dirty son who had been tending to the hogs being embraced by his father, who a short time earlier received a death wish. Not only did the father embrace the young man, he throws a celebration because his son is home.

This is grace. Unmerited, undeserving, unconditional forgiveness and love.

Here is how grace plays into our lives.

The same way the father ran to meet the son, The Lord runs to meet us. It doesn’t matter where we’ve been, we can always go back home.

Acting

What has grace done for you? Take a moment to thank the Lord.

What can grace do for you? Go back home.

Please share this post with anyone who would find it encouraging.

 

a crowd of people walking

His Friends Didn’t Quit

Overwhelming circumstances and situations are hard, and they can be a barrier to accomplishing goals and fulfilling dreams. We become overwhelmed, so our natural response is to quit. Mark and Luke introduce us to four friends who encourage us not to quit. The Gospel writers introduce these four men through a fifth friend who is unable to walk.

Totally reliant on other people, the man spent his days on a mat. He was unable to move, and his friends cared about him. They made sure his needs were met. They wanted to help the man as much as they could, but there was only so much they could do.

The friends heard how Jesus was performing miracles and helping all kinds of people. “if they could only get their friend to Jesus,” they thought, “what could he do?”

Jesus came to their town one day, so the friends carried the man to see him. They arrived at the house only to see the crowd was large. They had to get their friend to Jesus, but it seemed there was no way to get any closer.

It would have been easy for the friends to quit at this point. They could have given each other a high five for trying and went about their day. What would have happened if the friends quit? There are times in life when it would be easy for you and me to quit. What happens if we do?

Thankfully, the man’s friends decided not to quit. Their persistence helps us understand what it looks like not to quit.

Not Quitting May Be Unconventional

The four friends faced what seemed to be an impossible task. They had to carry a man through a large crowd to get Jesus’ attention. They devised a plan to bypass the crowd and go through the roof. Their plan was unconventional and risky. They could fall; the man could fall, and deroofing might upset the homeowner. To spite the risks, the men proceed.

The friends practiced what John Maxwell calls the Law of Victory. They did not give up when obstacles were standing in their way. They were determined to get their friend to Jesus. “Fulfilling a dream often does not come easy or within the realm of the conventional,” Maxwell says. In this case, the men had to proceed with a plan built on faith. Realizing their goal of placing their friend before Jesus meant stepping out on faith.

We, too, must build our plans on faith and step out on faith to see our dreams fulfilled. Obstacles may stand in our way, so we must be determined to allow the Lord to help us step around them. While it may be risky and unconventional, not quitting may require us to step out in faith.

Not Quitting May Exercise Our Faith

In He Still Moves Stones, Max Lucado says, “Faith does these things. Faith does the unexpected, and faith gets God’s attention.” It certainly did in this moment. Jesus was so moved by the men’s faith that he healed the man lying before him on a mat. The man who couldn’t walk into the house was able to walk out of the house. And, it is safe to say the crowd stepped aside so he could walk through the door.

Though facing overwhelming odds, the four friends were determined to get the man to Jesus, so he was able to walk out of the house. They stepped out on faith rather than quitting.

You may be facing overwhelming odds today. Life may be in a horrible place right now, but please don’t quit. Rather than quitting, devise a plan built on faith

Stop and think about your plan for a moment. Ask yourself these questions.

  • What’s the next step in accomplishing my goal?
  • What’s the next move in fulfilling my dream?
  • What can I do to start going around the overwhelming obstacles? Perhaps it is getting more information, enrolling in a class, asking for help with my resume, or taking the first step to reconcile a relationship.
  • What action step can I take today to start the plan in motion?

Follow the example of the four friends and put your plan in motion. I can’t promise the outcome, but I can relay a promise the Lord gives. That is, he will always be with you. He will not ignore your faith.

Acting

Identify the obstacles standing in your way and enact a plan to overcome them. Ask the Lord to help you each step of the way.

Know a friend who may benefit from this post? Please share it with him or her.

 

 

mountains with the sun setting

Feel like quitting?

Feel like quitting? You should meet Joseph Grunfeld.

Joseph is a 62-year-old New Yorker who has defied odds all his life. “Born with a heart murmur,” according to the New York Post, “he’s had three back operations, suffered a stroke that left one arm entirely numb, and has mild to moderate rheumatoid arthritis.” And earlier this month, Grunfeld defied odds once more.

He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro’s peak of 19,340 feet. Grunfeld, who has difficulty walking, said it was not easy. He had many people, including doctors, tell him no along the way, but he refused to give up. Grunfeld was able to climb the mountain with the aid of walking sticks and a team of volunteers. Joseph Grunfeld was able to accomplish his goal and fulfill his dream because he didn’t give up.

How often do you feel like giving up in life? Seeing a dream realized or obtaining a goal becomes hard, so we want to stop. A long-term relationship enters a rough season, so we just want to bale. It may be tempting to quit, but Joseph Grunfeld’s story reminds us pressing on can bring victory.

Our victory may mean defying odds and staring down stereotypes, but we can.

Defying Odds

You and I may face overwhelming odds, but we can defy them. Statistics are just numbers on paper. They do not chart the course of our lives if we do not allow it. Maybe you’re facing odds that say you’ll never earn a degree. Odds are you won’t be successful in that career path, but it is your passion.

For you and me to realize our dreams and achieve our goals, it may mean we have to ignore the stats. It may take us longer than it does everyone else. We may have to take a different approach than others, but that is okay. Hard work and persistence will overcome stats. You and I can defy the odds.

Staring Down Stereotypes

You and I may have to face down some stereotypes. Society tries to place people in boxes which do not fit. I’m sure you are aware of any stereotype you face, but it does not describe you.

You and I can not allow stereotypes to play games with us. We must do our best to ignore them and press on. Breaking through stereotypes gets society thinking which may make it easier for others in the future. So, not only are we realizing our own dreams, we are helping shape the future.

Where can we find strength?

We can find strength in others who have went before us. Their stories may encourage and inspire us. Most importantly, I believe we can find strength to defy odds and stare down stereotypes in the Lord.

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Realizing dreams and achieving goals can be hard, but don’t quit. You can defy the odds and stare down the stereotype.

As for Joseph Grunfeld, he has no plans on quitting. He has climb one mountain and has a second in mind. “I’m revved up,” Grunfeld told the New York Post.

Acting

What is the next step you need to take in realizing your dream? What’s the next step in achieving your goal? Identify it and do it. You may need aid and extra time, but that’s okay. You can do it.

 

 

aerial photo of world map

Recalculating

Recalculating is a word many of us hear as we use Google Maps, Apple Maps, or any of the GPS guidance products. We miss a turn so the app must find a new way to our destination. Missing a turn doesn’t result in being lost forever; it just means it may take a little longer to get there and it may be a little harder route.

Grace can work the same way. It can recalculate the direction our life is going. If you do not like the direction your life is going, the Lord’s grace can recalculate you to a path of hope and peace. Many people have allowed grace to change the direction they were headed.

Grace has recalculated many lives.

Here are some examples of recalculated lives.

Peter

We don’t have to look far past Jesus to see one such story. Peter was called to be one of Jesus’ disciples. He has a reputation for being spontaneous and sticking his foot in his mouth. He denied knowing Jesus three times on the night Jesus was betrayed. John tells us Jesus visited one-on-one with Peter after his resurrection, and Peter was forgiven of his mistake.

Peter was going in the right direction until he made a wrong turn, but he was not lost forever. The Lord’s grace allowed Peter to recalculate his direction, and he became instrumental in spreading the Good News.

Paul

Paul is an example of grace changing a person’s life. He spent time persecuting, even killing, Christians. In his resume of sins, Paul calls himself the chief sinner. However, in Acts 9, the Lord uses grace to recalculate Paul’s life. Paul was appointed as an Apostle and became influential in the growth of the church. It has been said Paul had to be blinded in order to see the light.

Two Anonymous Ladies

A couple of unnamed women serve as examples of life-changing grace. First, Luke 7 records Jesus having dinner at a Pharisee’s house when a woman from that town began anointing Jesus. She was so grateful for his grace she could not contain her emotions. She wept on his feet, then dried them with her hair. All we know is that she lived a sinful life. To what extent of sinfulness, we are not told. She may have made a few mistakes, or she may have been a seasoned prostitute. Either way, she was forgiven, and her life was changed.

Second, John 8 tells of a woman supposedly caught in adultery. Adultery was punishable by stoning; however, Jesus gives a classic answer, “The one without sin can throw the first stone.” The crowd slowly leaves until only the woman and Jesus are remaining. Jesus grants her grace and sends her on her way to live a new life. Scripture speaks of many lives being changed because of grace, and we find the same to be true in more recent history.

John Newton

Perhaps one of the most famous illustrations of a life being recalculated by grace is that of John Newton. Newton is the writer of Amazing Grace.

After becoming established as a seaman, Newton entered the slave trade. He made many voyages with people as his cargo. Somewhere along the way, he heard of Christ and His offer of forgiveness. He became a Christian, but it took ten years for him to completely realize the horridness of human trafficking. We like to think his transformation happened overnight, but it took a few years for the Lord to form Newton’s heart. Keep in mind Christians in Newton’s day did not believe there was anything wrong with slavery. The Lord changed John Newton’s heart, his life, and used him to pin a familiar hymn.

Recalculating can take time.

Like Newton, it may take you and me a little time to get back on track. We start going in the right direction only to make another wrong turn. It happens, so don’t give up. Grace will recalculate your life once more.

It doesn’t matter how many wrong turns we’ve taken. What matters is going in the right direction now. The wrong turns are in the past, and we must leave them there. Our attention needs to be given to following the right directions when we are on the right path.

Acting

Remember to allow grace to change your direction the next time you make a wrong turn.