Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)
TITLE: Reading for Life
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How often do we feel trapped by life? How often do we tell ourselves, “I’m trapped by a bad marriage or I’m trapped by my past mistakes?” I know a person who has tried to free himself from such thoughts. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t free himself beyond his circumstances while using his own will. However, through reading, prayer, and applying what he read he was able to overcome his feeling of being trapped.
When this person was nineteen years old he developed a relationship with Jesus. At the moment he got through praying for Jesus to enter his life he felt nothing. His heart didn’t beat wildly. He didn’t faint. He didn’t even smile. He remembers standing up after kneeling and wiping the snow from his pants. His pants were wet at his knees from kneeling in wet snow. Alone, at a deserted picnic area, in the city of Denver Colorado, he shivered in the blackness of a cold winter night in December. While walking back to his residence he became warm, with a feeling of relief. He felt a burden had been lifted from his chest and the confession for the need of Christ made him feel less troubled.
As days turned to weeks, from that moment of confession in the park, secular habits returned. Drinking and frequenting bars were normal activities of life. However, he became calmer and didn’t party into the wee hours of the night as he used to. He began going to Bible study on a weekly basis.
The Bible study group read passages relating how verses could be applied to life problems everyone was facing. A few members of the Bible study group were Indians from reservations going to trade schools, a few had severe medical disabilities, and one was on probation from jail. Only one was from east of the Mississippi. Through reading and learning about other people he became knowledgeable of God’s word and began to apply scripture in his own life.
He read Proverbs. He liked the verses of Proverbs. He could feel some verses had kernels of truth that he could immediately apply to his life. He read Psalms. He read books of the New Testament. However, the painful realities of life appeared in his life whether he read the Bible or not. He wasn’t strong enough to keep up his faith.
He quit reading the Bible and quit going to Bible study. He fell back into old habits. He paid the penalty for his ways and many bad things happened to him through circumstances and poor planning.
His marriage disintegrated. He lost his job. After he lost his job he started a business. A few years later the business folded. His sisters and family no longer believed in him. God did not spare him the anguish and humility of being a complete failure. Even though he lost everything, he returned to Jesus. Life had taught him without God there is nothing. Without any friends and family, he turned to the only hope he had, Jesus Christ.
It has been said, “Home is where the heart is.” He tried to put his heart into church. He thought he could make the church his family. However, church relationships became too much like family. There were conflicts in church just like in his immediate family.
Trying to live above the petty bickering, he applied the golden rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He tried to forgive past injuries that had been done to him. He did not repay evil for evil. He got into year-long Bible study programs and went through Discipleship I, II, and III. He read books by Christian evangelists John McDowell and Charles Stanley. As he began to practice his Christian theology, he found out other Christians were just like himself, full of tough experiences, foibles, and peculiarities.
I, Louis Detweiler, am the person in this story. I continue to read voraciously. Reading scripture has given me hope and life when all hope is gone. I continue to read to free myself from binding circumstances acquired along the arduous path of life. I read to gain strength and to lead others to Christ. Now, through reading and prayer, I can find peace even in tough circumstances.
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