Grateful For A Second Chance

Most of you know that I was an orphan kid.  My dad left my mom and two older sisters before I was born.  When I was five, my mother passed away leaving us wards of the state of California where we were passed around to various foster homes for several years.  Thinking back now, if I had stayed at any one of those homes, my life would have been radically different. 

But on July 7th, 1961 I was taken from Juvenile Hall where I had been for several days and placed into a family that would become mine.  Yes, I did “time” in Ju-vee . . . I was put there because they couldn’t find a home for me.  I was the only kid in the wing because the “bad” kids were on the other side.  I could see them playing in the yard during the day, but I had to eat alone and sleep alone when at night they would lock me in my cell . . . er . . . room.

Anyway,  back at my new home.  I got a brother!  (I never had one of those before.)  I got three new sisters too.  And, I got a mom and a dad who provided us with a stable home.  This was the Wright family and they are my family to this day.  Stan and Gerrie didn’t have much money, but they had big hearts.  My dad was a pastor and he really cared for people.  My mom always welcomed people into our home and there was always extra food at the table in case anyone dropped in.  As an added benefit, my new family were best friends with Teri’s family.  So, I met my wife when I was seven and she was five!

Here’s the thing.  It wasn’t long (in my new surroundings and going to church every Sunday) before I began to hear some good news.  The good news that Jesus loved me.  That He would never leave me (like my first dad did.)  Or, my mom . . . I know she didn’t leave me but, I still felt (as a seven year old) abandoned.  I learned that the wrong things I had done were called sin and that sin had separated me from God.  But, because God loved me so much He sent Jesus to take my punishment and die in my place.  I learned that He was coming back for all of His children.  Wow . . . I could hardly believe it!

So, I said YES!
• Yes, to making Jesus Lord of my life.
• Yes, to receiving forgiveness and an opportunity to live for Him.
• Yes, to new hope, a new future, a new life!

My life has never been the same since.  I have an ongoing and personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.  Sure, I’ve messed up from time to time.  But God is faithful to His Word and will forgive us when we admit it.   Jesus is, and has been, my best friend, my counselor, my hero . . .  ever since!

You know, I could have been really messed up because of my past.  But I can’t change it, so why focus on that when there is so much ahead for me?  What a shame it would be if my identity was my past.  My identity is in Christ and what He has done for me.  Not in the setbacks of life.  Like Paul, the apostle, I do not want to look back, but instead press on toward the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus!

What about you?  What is your relationship with God?  Have you surrendered your life to Him?  I urge you, if you have not, please do so today.  Say “yes” to Him.  Maybe you’re discouraged.  Maybe you’re sick or in desperate financial straights.  You can trust Him.  You can call out to Him and he will answer you.  Let go of yourself.  Let go of your self-centeredness and begin to live for Him.  I promise you . . . that when you put Him first, the cares and pain of this world fade in comparison.

So, if you’ve done the math next Thursday, July 7th, 2011 it will be fifty years ago that God gave me a second chance in life by giving me a new family and leading me to Himself.  I am so grateful.  I am so overwhelmed by the love of God toward me when I didn’t even know He was there.  Thank you God!

Thanks for listening you guys, love you . . .

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