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“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
On April 21st, Chuck Colson passed away. For those who have lived long enough to know who Chuck Colson was and who he became, in many ways he represented a modern-day Paul, someone who was without a doubt converted by the grace and love of Jesus Christ which extends to even the worst of sinners. In his “former life,” Colson was known as President Nixon’s “hatchet man,” and served seven months in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. But as he was facing arrest, Colson found Jesus through C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity, and after his imprisonment, spent the last 40 years of his life serving God, most notably through his non-profit ministry Prison Fellowship, the largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families.
Over the past few months, as I have preached through John’s gospel, I feel like I have said many times that God works all things for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28), how he wastes nothing that we go through, but is able to use all of it for His glory and to save the lives of others. There is nothing that we have experienced that can not be redeemed and used for good. One of the greatest statements to this effect comes from Joseph in Genesis 50:20, where he tells his brothers, who had sold him into slavery, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” God, in His sovereignty, often allows experiences to befall us that may seem cruel and pointless, but with the benefit of hindsight, we can find ourselves agreeing with Joseph that the harm that came to us was ultimately used to save lives.
Chuck Colson’s life is a testimony to the fact that even when we do harm to ourselves though our own self-centered or careless acts, God can use those for good, for the saving of many lives. Colson, who by age 40 was intimately involved in the affairs of the White House, fell hard from those heights through his own wrongdoing, but he fell into grace, and from that foundation ministered to countless inmates and their families. Trials can have a way of humbling us and giving us compassion for those who struggle, and in the case of Colson, his conversion and imprisonment allowed Jesus to transform him from a man of greed and power into a man of love and service.
Never lose trust in the sovereignty and goodness of God. He loves to take hopeless cases and the worst kinds of evil we bring on ourselves or others bring on to us, and make something beautiful out of it.
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