Calling Colson’s ministry a second career--or framing it as the next chapter in his political journey--makes about as much sense as talking about the apostolic journeys of the apostle Paul as if they were the second career or new political trajectory of Saul of Tarsus.
Spreading the Gospel in prisons wasn’t Colson’s second career. It was his primary calling. It’s not the afterword of the story. It IS the story. Everything that came before was just the prologue, just as Saul of Tarsus’ persecution of the early Christians--before he was knocked from his horse on the Damascus Road--was prologue.
And that prologue—the lead into the real story--begins with sin: Saul’s persecution of Christians brought him to the point where he would be ripe for conversion. The same is true of Chuck Colson. His tenure as Nixon’s hatchet man brought him to conviction—in the deepest sense, not just time spent at Alabama’s Maxwell Prison. Like Saul, he met Jesus on his own Damascus road and became “deeply convicted of my own sin.” And then the real story of his life could begin.
So what’s the lesson for us?
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All of us—parents and children--take wrong turns on the road of life. But finding the right road is not simply a matter of pragmatic “recalculating.” True conversion requires deep acknowledgment of our sins---and the willingness to see the grace that brought us there. True conversion means that we acknowledge the Person who has called us to our life’s work.
The cynics and pragmatists fail to understand the real truth behind Chuck Colson’s second chance: Chuck Colson was a man who sinned and then fell in love with a Person—and everything was changed. Those who refuse to admit the reality of sin cannot possibly understand the depth of change wrought by Colson’s conversion.
Conversely, those of us who believe not only in the reality of sin, but the grace of the God who calls us to Himself, see Colson’s life differently. In his heartfelt eulogy for Colson, Pete Wehner wrote that Colson was “a man who fell in love and stayed in love with the Lord…He became God's servant [and] faithfully followed Him to the end….And now, blessedly, he is united with his Lord.”
That’s the real story of Chuck Colson’s life: passionate love for the Lord, lived out in faithful service.
Let’s make it our story as well.
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