Peter and Karen’s story
Karen and Peter Lewis
Transformed by grace
God still TRANSFORMS LIVES!
Peter’s life before God stepped in: dysfunctional childhood, broken home, mixed messages from parents (or no messages at all), waywardness, disrespect, confusion, no purpose, got in with the wrong crowd, lying, delinquency, drug abuse, crime, barely graduated high school, barely got into college, fell in love, moved in together, got married, became a dad… Karen’s life before God stepped in: dysfunctional childhood, alcoholic father, mental and emotional abuse, chaos, fear (slept with a knife under her pillow), inability to trust, no purpose, had to get out, went to college, lots of alcohol, fell in love, moved in together, got married, became a mom… Peter and Karen’s life together before God stepped in: graduated college, moved to the middle of nowhere, fornication, lousy jobs, poverty, cold and drafty house, utter selfishness, fear, distrust, church and lots of religion, but no faith; then a new son, no idea how to be a dad or a mom, living in the same house but alone, substance abuse, adultery, bitterness, little joy, love lost, no future, divorce imminent, no desire or effort to fix anything, abandonment considered, thoughts of suicide, life without meaning, we were done…
And then God gave us LIFE
Healing, transformation (both individually and together), rekindled and renewed love, our marriage restored (without any desire or effort on our part—it just started happening!); Peter learning how to be a husband and father, Karen learning how to be a wife and mother; bitterness leaving and forgiveness, trust, and respect flowing back in; life still full of trying circumstances, disappointments, and setbacks (which are still going on today because those things are promised to all of us), but in the midst of all that, despite all that, hearts and lives now constantly full of purpose and contentment and hope and the overflowing joy that comes from knowing God (John 17:3) and experiencing his wondrous love and grace and mercy.
Not just knowing about God, the way you might know about some famous person you’ve never met, but knowing God with an intimacy that words cannot describe. And not just wishful thinking and hoping for God’s help today and eternal life someday, but possessing both right now! Undeserved, unearned heavenly favor, not based on anything thought or understood, nothing spoken or prayed, no effort put forth or good deeds done. Just living awash in the overwhelming love of God and the fellowship of Jesus Christ, given freely, but at great cost. Everything in our lives now motivated and driven by God’s love for us and our love for God and for others. Everything for His glory! Thirty-three years and going strong. And getting stronger. Closer to God, and closer to each other. Mere words cannot express my constant and increasing amazement and wonder in being able to know God deeper and every day. I am overwhelmed.
Where is your life today, my friend? Is it above those lines, lost somewhere up there in those first paragraphs with all that pain and doubt? Or is your life down here in the hope-filled land of new life? I hope it’s down here, but if it’s not, I have the greatest news for you: God can fix anything!
And then God… Yeah, so, um…how did that happen?
What happened to Karen and I is the same thing that has been happening to people since there have been people. We were given new life by faith and by the power of what the bible calls “the gospel” which means “the good news.” God had made all of us in his image, to know him and reflect his love and grace and mercy and glory. But, like everyone else, Karen and I went our own selfish way (and boy did we suffer the consequences). We put ourselves first, rejecting him, making idols of our own lives by ignoring him and doing whatever pleased us. We had broken God’s laws and were (and are still) sinners, just like you. But God loves sinners and he has not left us in this hopeless state. Enter the gospel… God became a man in his son, Jesus, who lived a perfect life and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself. He lived the life that all of us were unable to live and then took on the punishment for the sins of all of us who would turn and trust him. He rose from the dead, demonstrating that his sacrifice was acceptable to God and that God’s just wrath had been exhausted. He ascended and presented his completed work to his heavenly father. And now he sends his Spirit to call us sinners (Karen and I, and you, too) through this message to repent of our sins and turn and trust in Christ alone for forgiveness. When this happens we are born again into new life. Our debt has been paid. God sees us now not as sinners, but as innocent and righteous—not because we are in fact innocent and righteous, but as forgiven sinners because Christ’s righteousness is now ours by faith. Christ died so that we could live. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we have been acquitted. Yeah, it’s still mysterious, but that’s okay; it’s still true, and we can still take advantage of it. I find electricity and digestion mysterious, too, but that doesn’t stop me from turning on the stove and making an omelet.
So why did Karen and I deserve this amazing forgiveness and new life? We didn’t deserve this. And what did we do to make it happen? We didn’t do anything to make it happen. None of us (including you) deserves anything from God but his good and perfect justice; and none of us is capable of doing anything to make ourselves right in his sight. The Bible declares that salvation—God making sinners just and righteous, acquitting them of their sins and restoring their relationship with him—is God’s work alone, by the death of his son and through the renewing power of his Spirit. By his grace and mercy and love, according solely to his initiative, and in his perfect time he calls sinners like you and me to himself and gives us a new nature, a nature that for the first time is able to see God as great and Christ as the most wondrous treasure; and then we turn from our sins (repent) and believe. Yes, it’s a flat-out miracle. From a recent message at church:
“We do not choose the new birth, do not initiate it, do not cooperate with God to get it; but one beautiful day we look into our soul and we find faith, we find new life with new desires, we find that we are believers, and we find the living Christ living in our heart. And we turn to Him, repent, and trust.”
If you have not yet experienced this new life that I have described, you can. God tells us in the bible that he saves people’s lives through the proclaiming of the simple message of the gospel—a brief account of which I just shared with you. So it is entirely possible (and my great hope and prayer) that right now, even as you are reading this, that God is giving you a new nature, turning your heart to receive this good news and new life for yourself. If God is doing his mighty life-giving work in you, then for the first time in your life you can do this. I beg you to respond! Repent and believe! Turn from your sin and to God! I know you don’t deserve it—neither do I. We don’t even deserve our next breath, yet there it is…
Still have questions, doubts, concerns? Or maybe something wonderful is happening to you! Let’s talk. I would love nothing more. You can contact me using the form below, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook.
Here’s one of our favorite worship leaders, Robin Mark, from Belfast, singing a peaceful and beautiful song. This is the way we feel every moment of every day.
A few final acknowledgments I would not have been able to do any of this without the support, patience, and encouragement of my family. To the love of my life, my wife Karen, my never-ending gratitude and devotion. How many times have we said to each other, “We have such a good life”? It’s in the thousands, for sure. To my children, Jeremiah and Amanda, you have been my inspiration and my joy for the last 30 and 22 years, respectively. How many times have I said to you, “I love being your dad”? It’s in the thousands, for sure. Your input (and, in your earliest years, your output) has forged, molded, and tempered me into who I am as a dad. We grew up together—what an indescribable happiness. And to all the friends who always urged me onward by saying things like, “For crying out loud, would you just DO IT already!” (you know who you are, so I don’t have single anyone out, right Sara?), I’m so very thankful. Most of all, for today, for this hour, for this very moment and for all eternity, I thank my savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, for dying my death and giving me His life. Such amazing grace brings fresh tears to my eyes each morning.And I must agree with John Newton:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun