“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18
Why this verse is important to Jeff:
I have been sober for 22 years. My life is dramatically different today. God has answered my prayers and has given me a life beyond my wildest imagination. I feel truly blessed. But 22 years ago, I was a lost. I was not someone you would have wanted to associate with. I never wanted to cause anyone any pain, but unfortunately, I did. Trying to solve my problems on my own and with my own tools left me selfish and stubborn. When I reached out to God for help, He saved me. I realized that I wasn’t “in charge.” For the first time I understood that there was real power in being powerless. I let go, and let God lead me – and He did. But I sure didn’t feel worthy of the blessings I received, and I was haunted by a past filled with guilt and shame. How could God use me? How could I enjoy my life knowing that I had caused others grief? I felt forgiveness, but I still had some gnawing questions that pestered me and kept me from true peace.
Early on in my sobriety, I remember attending a meeting with a friend. As he and I settled in to the gathering, my friend shook the hand of a newcomer. He introduced himself and they began a conversation. It was a standard introduction at first, but quickly got very personal. We found out that the newcomer had a wife and children at home, an apartment and a job. He had put it all in jeopardy because of his drinking. We sat and listened to him while he painted a picture of hopelessness and fear. He had lost it all and had nowhere to turn. He wasn’t even sure that he was in the right place; he wondered aloud if quitting drinking was the right thing to do. Why not keep up the bad behavior because, “what’s the point anyway?” I felt for this man. His story was compelling and one I had heard many times in my first few years of sobriety. Then my friend spoke up. He spoke with conviction as he told this newcomer that he just wasn’t seeing things correctly. He said that the man had not been cursed, but instead had been given a gift. “God put you here to be of service,” he said. “He did not put you here to be selfish. Imagine the kind of blessing you will be to the next guy that comes in here after he’s lost everything. Your story is powerful, so powerful that it can save somebody’s life. You’ll tell him how you got sober and turned your life around, and that will give hope to someone who is hopeless just like you are now. You’ve been given a gift, my friend, and you never have to sober up again.” I remember being amazed when I saw the newcomer’s face light up and his spirit fill with hope. I’ve never forgotten that meeting so many years ago.
When I read this verse in Isaiah I realized that God’s promise of redemption is true. Regardless of my past, or anybody’s past, God can make all things new. And God can use your brokenness for His good purposes. I have had the priveledge in my years of sobriety to tell my story to hundreds of men that show up desperate and hopeless, just like I did. And, not because of my own power, but because of God’s power, I have seen miracles. Lives restored right before my eyes. God has used me – He will use you too.
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.
Amen to that!