How Amazing Grace Is Helping Me (NIV)
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- Format: Folded Tract
- Paper: Gloss Text
- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 8
- Version: NIV
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The big challenge that shook the foundation of my life was career relocation 2000 miles away from my loving family after 27 wonderful years with them. I was not prepared for the loneliness of living without my wonderful wife and children along with the need to double the stressful hours of work during the steep economic decline. As I started to prepare, one of my friends suggested I read Robinson Crusoe, a true-to-life novel about a man who struggles to survive on his own in a world (an island) very much different from home.
In the novel, Robinson Crusoe found his bearings by going back to the ship wreckage and rafting what would be useful to survive back to the island, including a carpenter’s chest loaded with tools, barrels of dry gunpowder, and arms. Also, he evacuated prayer-books and Bibles as well as some barley seed. But disheartened by the Pacific island’s bad weather for growing barley, he threw out the seed in anger. Several months later when he saw the sprouts surprisingly growing, the first thoughts stirred in his soul that a Providential God must have miraculously caused this grain to grow and therefore had not abandoned him! He figured he was not alone on the island after all and began to read the Bible intently.
New challenges came upon Robinson Crusoe on the island. He was tested by an earthquake that caved in his dug-earth island home, and then by sickness to the brink of death which reminded him of his 8 years of seafaring wickedness preceding the shipwreck. It was at this time a fever-induced vision of the devil haunted him and threatened to spear him for all the past wrongs he had done—especially the slave trade. In the midst of the torment, Robinson Crusoe called out to God to have pity and mercy on him.
My “marooning” challenge started alone with a 6-day 2000-mile drive away from home toward my new job, and during that time my mind wrestled with why this trial had come upon me. In the Bible, Solomon wrote that “God tests men so that they may see that they are like animals” (Ecclesiastes 3:18)—in other words, to humble them to see their imperfections. Even Jesus was sent to the desert for 40 days and nights to be tested by the devil’s temptations after prolonged fasting and loneliness before He began to fulfill His life’s purpose. Jesus’ earthly family and village neighbors also drove Him out of town! Jesus was essentially homeless and had “no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). He probably often slept outdoors, in unheated dwellings and even in boats. If even Jesus was so severely tested under adversity and found true, could His victories become useful to the outcome of my own testing? Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
In his desperation to survive, Robinson Crusoe took up one of the Bibles and was helped by the words, “call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me” (Psalms 50:15). Crusoe began to ask God to deliver him from the lonely island and studied the Bible intensely looking for survival hope. His trial had been for this very purpose—to drive him to go deeper with his Creator. Over time, and through readings of the Scriptures, Jesus yokes powerfully with Robinson Crusoe. Next, Crusoe enters his greatest chapter of testing—he discovers footprints in the sand and an epic friendship is forged. With the changes Christ wrought, Crusoe, the former slave trader and abuser now becomes the rescuer of a savage native from cannibals. Crusoe names him Friday for the day he found him. The two become closest friends and go on to have many adventures in which they would save one another’s lives from dangers reflective of their ever-deepening relationship.
The Bible tells us that all of our righteousness, including the very best things we ever do, are so permeated with sin and selfishness that they “are like filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). Obviously for my challenge, I would need the stabilizing power of Jesus Christ in my life. And my wife and children would need the stabilizing helps from God as well. The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). I confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead and more importantly started centering my life upon this Bible fact. I wondered, “how powerful a stabilizing reality is the sacrificial blood of Jesus?” Would the power of Jesus keep my family centered on the virtues of living the way the Bible advises even against the instability of this world’s chaos? Would Jesus preserve my marriage? Would my children continue on a righteous and productive path? “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth … [we have] trampled the Son of God underfoot” (Hebrews 10:26-29). Would we find the footprints of Jesus stepping forward to help our family, or would Jesus find our footprints trampling on His Holy Name?
As I contemplated how Jesus handled His last and most difficult testing on the cross, even forgiving those who crucified Him and a thief who was crucified with Him, it hit me fresh that Jesus is the Amazing Grace I need more of. Spending more of my time reading the Bible to be strengthened and sanctified by the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17) has increased my obedience to God only by Christ’s ongoing empowerment.
Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, recently stated in her Winter 2013 newsletter, “My parents encouraged me to set my spiritual compass so that the ‘needle’ of my faith always pointed to the Bible, God’s Word. In fact, my mother inscribed my first Bible with these words, ‘This is your sure guide in an unsure world. Read it, study it, love it, live it. In it you will find a verse for every occasion.’”
As the years of isolation passed I was inspired to hunt ways Bible people were obedient to Jesus and pray those obedient Bible ways into my wife, children, loved ones and me. I found my Bible full of epic stories about men and women tested by imprisonments, shipwrecks, wanderings, slavery, captivities, sicknesses and isolation of many kinds that go way beyond the story of Robinson Crusoe. With greater communion with Jesus through Bible reading, prayer, church attendance and worship, my marriage and family become more stable and hold together only in Christ.
As Crusoe and Friday became friends building bridges, canoes, shelters, hunting, defending, and farming together, Crusoe wanted the great benefits of deepening help from Amazing Grace that he had been given to also be given to his best friend. He knew from the Bible that God has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). So Crusoe taught Friday the English language and they spent many nights discussing different beliefs while often reading from the Bible. Christ helped them both.
One day I discovered that Jesus states, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” three times (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13). I desired more of those vast Amazing Graces of Jesus imbedded in the Alpha to Omega concept, the A to Z of all creation found in Christ and in prayer to and with Him. So I earnestly went deeper to investigate Jesus—for example, how Jesus, when voluntarily sacrificing His life on the cross for our sins, forgave those responsible for nailing Him to the cross. I often share my amazements with my wife and she helps me by praying with me every night on the phone before going to sleep, still a thousand miles apart. Robinson Crusoe helped Friday, and Friday helped Crusoe.
The heart-throb of the Bible is the transaction between God and man when Jesus died on the cross and three days later arose from His grave. By soaking in fresh thoughts of what happened on and after the cross in each dimension of His amazing victories—for example, how Jesus, as He voluntarily gave up His life for our sins, He forgave those who nailed Him to the cross—we will be set free from temptation and promoted toward service with Christ for others. How can we keep such Amazing Grace to ourselves?
In summary, the best concepts about Jesus for your purpose are those that you soak in and absorb from the Bible and find by perseverance you can overcome in your specific God-allowed challenge. Why the challenge? For us to find out that Jesus is really alive and wanting to love us into His closest circle of family friends! Just like Robinson Crusoe, we all need to be placed outside our comfort zones to have the chance to ask for the Author of Amazing Grace to come into our lives in a bigger way. What life challenge will it take for you to dig deeper and fight harder for Amazing Grace? When in your life have you been closest to Jesus? I hope it is now! Wherever you find yourself now dear reader, just as you are, I urge you to evaluate how you miss the mark of God according to the ten commandments (found in Exodus 20:3-17), then confess your sins out loud to God and ask Jesus to come into your life, believing in your heart that Jesus died for your sins and was raised by God from the dead: “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Then read the Bible, obey what it says by asking Jesus into your life’s challenges in bigger ways, focusing on the fresh footprints of Amazing Grace helping you and tell someone about your newfound joys in life.
Please look again at the front cover picture of footprints coming toward you up out of the ocean. As you do, look for Amazing Grace stepping forward to help you if (and ONLY IF) you ask Jesus into your life. Thank you.
Quotation copyright©2013 Anne Graham Lotz (AnGeL Ministries) Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.annegrahamlotz.com