Dare to take a second chance

Cheater.

Dirty tricks.

Evil Hatchet Man.

Low.

Every one of these words was once used to describe the character of Chuck Colson, a Nixon Presidential aide who became one of the first to go to prison after the Watergate scandal broke and President Nixon was forced out of office. Back when the political game was won using cheap shots and dirty plays (I know, I’m talking about it as if it’s in the past…), Chuck Colson led the pack in the use of shrewd tactics.

But then, something happened.

Yes, he got caught and for many years people dismissed the change in him as nothing more than one more trick. But it wasn’t true. Nearly four decades of relentless and tireless work for prisoners revealed that Chuck Colson had truly been changed from the inside out.

Chuck Colson knew prisoners because he had lived with them. He had been one. What does a man who experiences literal chains do when he is released back to freedom?

“I could never, ever have left prison and accomplished what has been accomplished but for God doing it through me,” Chuck once said. In 1993 he is quoted as saying, “I shudder to think of what I’d been if I had not gone to prison. Lying on the rotten floor of a cell, you know it’s not prosperity or pleasure that’s important, but the maturing of the soul.”

Thank God for second chances.  And third. And fourth.

Our past does not have to define who we are today. Redemption is sweet and offered to all. For 36 years, Chuck Colson faithfully carried out the simple command of loving “the least of these.” His ministry, Prison Fellowship Ministry, fought relentlessly for prisoners who, just like himself, needed someone to give them a second chance. He developed work-release programs, marriage seminars, training for prisoners to help mainstream them back into society when they got out.

Chuck Colson was a champion for the outcast of society and in so doing, he changed the course of how prisons are run and prisoners are treated, not just here in America, but around the world as well.

Why do we complicate the message of Christ? Why do we water it down, twist and contort it into to something that is in no way recognizable or appealing to others?

Love.

That’s all it is. Love people and love them well. Love them not because you have to, but because you want to. Love them when they are unlovable. Loving people doesn’t have to be so scary, but sometimes it will be hard. Love anyway. The poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden and, yes, the ones who have brought harm – they need love.

Sometimes love has to be a choice – not a feeling. As our pastor said yesterday, “Sometimes you have to do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.” Sometimes love is hard. But to give yourself over to loving the unlovable?

That’s character.

My husband spent a year under Chuck Colson’s leadership as part of his Centurian’s Program. Colson changed my husband. He helped shape him into the man and thinker that he is today. I am indebted to Chuck Colson for the way that he developed my husband into a leader who is quick to listen and slow to speak.

Chuck Colson was a man with a second chance and he didn’t waste a minute in using that second chance to change lives. What will you do with your second chance?

“We grieve that our brother, our founder, our inspiration is no longer with us. But we rejoice that Chuck is with Jesus, we rejoice as we reflect on his life and legacy and that we could be a part of that, and we rejoice when we think of all the redeemed in heaven who will greet him and thank him for the role he played in their salvation.” Jim Liske, Chief Executive Prison Fellowship Ministries

Faithful.

Courage.

Integrity.

Respected.

Set Free.

These are just a few of the words used to describe Chuck Colson in the days following his passing .  Second Chances…

Here is a great article on Chuck Colson.

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Comments

  1. His is an awesome story of redemption!!! I want to have “coffee” with him and his wife and hear their story from both perspectives. She must have quite a testimony as well!

  2. Well said Kelli. Chuck changed my life through the Centurion Program as well. What a reception he will have in glory.

    • Amen. And you took part in this life-changing moment for Lee by introducing him to the Centurion Program. We are so grateful for that!

  3. I am embarrassed to say that I had no idea who Chuck Colson was. What an amazing story. So many times, we dismiss people because of their past, and it really is a shame.

    • I didn’t know much about him until Lee joined his leadership development program, either Amy. No worries. 🙂 I just knew he’d written some books (LOTS of books). But his complete story is amazing! He was quite a man…

  4. Kelli,

    When you write ” Love people and love them well. Love them not because you have to, but because you want to,” what do you mean by the word “love.” I have been having a lot of trouble figuring out what “love” means, especially when used as you used it ,AND also, when the word is used in “self-love.”

    It seems to me that many people use the word love in many different ways. How do I love people and love them well? How does someone love her/himself? Any thoughts?

    • These are great questions, Ron and what a great opportunity for discussion. I think love can mean different things. It’s not always just an emotion, but it’s also an action and you can feel the emotion without any action, or your can show the action without feeling emotion. But I think love, when combined with both emotion AND action is the most powerful!

      Love in action, for me, is service. Meeting someone where they are and serving their needs. In the case of loving the unloveable, like prisoners, sometimes I think love requires that we show the action (service) even if we don’t feel the emotion. And I think that many times, once we begin showing the action, then the emotion is quick to follow.

      As for self-love, this one is a bit trickier. I think we all need a measure of self-respect to keep us from making foolish choices involving our bodies and how we view ourselves. But self-love can lead to pride, haughty indignation and a sense of entitlement and it needs to be treated carefully. I don’t want to love myself, but I do want to respect myself and give myself every opportunity to succeed in life through confidence and the belief that I’ve been gifted with talents that need to be used and shared. But love myself? That’s a different emotion altogether.

      So those are my thoughts on the matter. What are your thoughts?

      • What a great question and reply!

        God commanded us to love, and it is one of those things that comes easy to me. I just love people and I express my love freely. I definitely know there are some that do not love so easily though. Are there people that are harder to love? oh yes! But I know I’m not always easy to love either.

        I know it is possible to show the action without feeling the emotion but I hate when I find myself in that position. I always want to serve out of love, not out of duty.

        On those spiritual gift tests, I always test strong in compassion and empathy. But it’s funny how God has given me a child that tests both of those to the very limit. She is so needy of every emotion I have. I feel guilty so often because I seem to have less patience, compassion, empathy with her than with any other person on the planet. But this child also has a bigger heart than I do, so I know there is hope if we can just ever make it through these years. 🙂

        Now self-love. that one is hard for me. It’s one I’ve struggled with all my life and it has led me down some pretty rough roads. It’s a constant battle, but hopefully one I will win someday!

        Now with all that said…Love you guys and miss you bunches! 🙂

        • Great point, Traci! I think we ALL struggle with self-love that manifests itself in selfishness. It’s a battle that we will likely fight for the duration of our time here on Earth. *sigh*

          🙂

          Miss you guys, too.

      • Hmm…., “love in action is service.” Interesting.

        “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” How do I love myself? And, when I figure that out, then do I really love my neighbor in the same manner? Wow!

        This word “love” is tossed around in the English language like we all know what it means. If it’s meaning is allowed to vary, based on the thoughts and feelings of the individual, then how can we follow (or make sense of) such a statement such as, “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself?”

        I know that love (agape) and charity are similar in meaning, but the Greeks have at least three words for love. We tend to throw the word “love” around like “sprinkling spice on a meal.”

        I love my wife, my dog, pizza, vacation, my friend, a movie, wine, chocolate milk, snow, math, and yes, even God. Now throw in, I love myself. What????? What do I mean by love? 🙂

        • You are digging deep, Ron. It’s great. And yes, I saw how you slipped in that love of Math. Hehehehe… 😉

          You’re right. It’s hard to dissect when our English language limits us to one word that cannot have a thousand different meanings. Don’t you think we all possess a measure of self-love no matter how hard we try to combat it? As a matter of self-preservation, we all love ourselves to a degree and sometimes we can love ourselves too much or not enough.

          Loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, in a sense, could mean we take care of, and provide for, those in need just as we do for ourselves. But I honestly don’t know. I’ve done no research on the matter. I’m gonna have to chew on this one for a bit. Thanks for the food for thought! 🙂

          • Recently, while at a Wellness Group Meeting, a doctor in the group brought up the question: “Can love be scientifically explained?” Another person in the group stated that she thinks it’s possible to scientifically measure the change in energy flowing through the meridians/radians of the body when a person experiences love.

            This I find fascinating, since I believe that everything is energy. Indeed, Einstein gave us a formula relating energy to mass. E = m c(squared). Basically, from a physics point of view, all is energy. Therefore, from that point of view, love is energy. When the energy is flowing “in a certain manner” we are experiencing love. When we direct our energy in a certain matter we are loving.

            Regarding measuring love, I know there are scientific ways of measuring the energy in the acupuncture meridians that have been in use for over 60 years. Of course, acupuncture has been in use for thousands of years. What I don’t think has been done, yet, is attempting to measure and/or quantify love. I would love to see that. 🙂

            Thanks for giving this the thought you have. You have helped me learn, and for that, I’m most grateful.

          • And thank you, Ron, for helping me to dig a little deeper. This was such a great discussion. Thanks so much for bringing up your questions! 🙂

  5. Been catching up on your blog today! Enjoyed your blogging how to series!

  6. Hi there, just visiting from Compassion as I noticed you are one of the bloggers signed up for the May trip. This post was so interesting because you took someone I only had passing knowledge of and made him sound really likeable and intersting. I really like your writing and look forward to your Compassion posts.

    • Thank you, Rachel. I look forward to taking everyone on the journey. And thanks for stopping by and reaching out!