In the last issue of The Intercessor, Chris Anderson told how a family crisis drew him to receive Jesus Christ as his savior (pages 20-21, God’s Wonderful Plan). One of the events God used was a comment made in a letter to his We by a member of her fellow-ship, Colette Burger, stating that their present crisis would "hopefully… change Chris." When she learned that Chris had read her let-ter, Colette wrote directly to Chris to explain what she meant. In that letter, which is reprinted below, Colette tells Chris the basics of what she believes and lives.
LETTER TO CHRIS
I’ve been thinking for a while now about dropping you a note about the letter I wrote to Kathy. I think I know how it must have felt to you (major BLEK). And I also know that Kathy did try to explain what I did/didn’t mean by "changed." I am also assuming that you think you know what I meant by it. All the way around, it’s got a knot in my stomach, and I’m sure in yours, too. So, let’s forget all the assumptions and let me address you directly with exactly what I do/do not mean, and then you can take it from there.
First of all, let me preface this by saying that I think you are great! "Changed" to me does not mean changed personality. God made us all different–not cookie cut-outs. Mostly why I like you is because I see stuff in you I admire and don’t see in myself. So, scratch the notion that I don’t like you or don’t think you are "acceptable." It is not the point! (And I do like you.)
Now, what I do mean by changed…let me back up a little. This gets into what I believe about a person, or people, and what I believe about God. If what I believe is true, then it’s true. (Logical?!) If it’s true, then it’s true for me, but not just me or any other single per-son or group of people only, because then it stops being true and is just some fanciful whim.
How can I know/believe that what I believe is true? 1) Because there is a book (the Bible) that has tons of stuff in it that is incredibly consistent, historical and factual…but I can’t base it on that one because skeptics can always find something to refute it. No one can prove that God exists. More importantly, 2) I took a step of faith some years ago (remember in the movie with Harrison Ford, I think it was The Last Crusade, where he puts his foot out into the air and "voila" there was the invisible beam?–exactly like that) and afterwards, I knew in my guts it was true. I never would have realized it if I hadn’t taken that step. (Harrison Ford would never have made it across the abyss if he hadn’t!) So, what was the step? It is the bottom line of what I believe and eventually gets into the "change" issue.
The Bible says in Romans that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." I guess if the glory of God is perfection then we all have fallen short, for sure. I know I spent my life trying to be a "good person," but I had a lot of selfish motives, too, and just plain old didn’t hit God’s mark (which is total, unselfish love. It also says, in Romans 6:23, that the penalty for even the smallest sin is death (pretty drastic, huh?). Anyhow, God did give us a way out by sending Jesus Christ to die for us–to take our place so we wouldn’t have to. He loved us enough to do that! So, those that believe it are "saved." But it is like having some-one deposit a million dollars into your savings account. If you never make a withdrawal, it is meaning-less to you. It’s only when you go to get the money out that it makes a difference in your existence. So, it’s the same with Christ. He is a fact. He is there. But unless you take Him as your Savior, He remains outside of you, waiting for you to cash in on H. When the step is taken, life changes!
I was exactly where you are now, some years ago. Exactly. I would tell my sister (not wanting to hurt her, just wanting her off my case) that I did believe in Jesus, but I didn’t want her to tell me what to believe. Slowly, I guess God crept up on me and got my attention. I saw in time that the verse was really true that "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." Now, there’s a bottom line for you!
There are so many questions I bet you’re asking. I asked them all, too, and it is okay. God doesn’t mind! But there are two ways to ask. To ask in a way to put God off, or to ask really wanting to know the answers. Well, the answers are there if you want them. But don’t let it stop you… in the end it’s not God who will be suffering if you never collect your million.
I know what stopped me was being afraid I’d end up a "freak" like my sister–a Bible-toting, obnoxious, outspoken Jesus freak. What I found out was 1) I actually became a lot more fun, less into myself, and more enjoyable to be around, and 2) I stopped caring if I was a freak or not! So maybe I am one, but oh, well!! At least I’m enjoying my freakiness! I’m having a lot more fun in my life than I ever had before. God is fun; He invented it! My definition of it changed, is all. I can also be serious when I need to be.
My bottom line at all times was that I wanted to do "the right thing." I knew at some point that Jesus Christ was the only one who was able to do the right thing all the time, and the next right thing was for me to believe that what He said was true, not just with my intellect, but with my heart, and then to take it for myself.
So, again, if I believe this is true for me, and my life is "changed" because of it, then of course I want this for all those I care about. Just like I would want, say, my kids to get the best education they could, or eat three square meals a day–what I want is the highest and best for my loved ones and their loved ones. It’s not that I want you to change because you’re not good enough! (Who is good enough, any-way?!!!) It’s that no life is what it’s meant to be until Christ is realized in it. Change is not an outer thing, but an inner–by asking Christ to go from the outside to the inside where He is able to do more than we ever thought possible (or ever thought we’d want!!)
That is the basics of what I believe. I hope that clears it up. I’d love to know what you are thinking. If you ever want to talk about it, feel free to call me (or write). At any rate, it’s food for thought. Thanks for listening, if you got this far!
Once again, it was great to be with you all in Castleton and just knowing it’s where I really wanted to be. Jesus Christ is the ultimate success story and so can we be if we choose Him in all situations. He can only express His power and glory in the world today through vessels that are available. For my part, I need to let Him live out His life as me, trusting Him even when circumstances and feelings can overwhelm me. Being more open and accountable has helped me to see it is Christ going on anyway. Praise God! It is uplifting to know that my circumstances come from God and they are safe and I can cope because Christ in me can.
Richard Gilsenan Carlow, Ireland
GOD DETERMINES OUR CONSEQUENCES
It was great seeing you all at the weekend. at seems to have been reinforced for me is that we get what we believe–negative or positive. I know a couple of my sisters have heard the Gospel clearly and understood it, but turned away from it. I used to see their miser-able lives as the circumstances God was using to draw them. I know it is that, but now I see that it is also them getting the consequences of their choices. It shows me how God determines freedom but also retains complete control since we don’t get to choose the consequences of our choice.
I liked the comment you made to me that we get to be like Rees Howells by pressing on with the intercession God gives us and learning in the process, as I’m sure he had to do. Since I’ve been doing the 12-Steps over the past year, I know I’m more committed to the people who’ve tried to help me–really, God through people. This is what I’ve really always wanted. Only a God of love, mercy and infinite capacity to do whatever He wants could have allowed me to exercise my free choice and go my own way, thereby not fulfilling the desires of my heart, and then draw me back the right way, while still retaining my freedom to choose. It is a marvelous mystery which I don’t fully understand.
I will close for now and, again, thank you for all your input and commitment over the years.
Romford, Essex England