Explore
Follow Us

My life is a mess and I need to change

On a balmy evening in the downtown Matamoros plaza, palm trees rustled overhead in the breeze and peddlers hawked their wares.  The two men I was translating for and I were tempted to relax and just enjoy the ambiance.  But we had asked the Lord to show us who was seeking him in the pla…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
On a balmy evening in the downtown Matamoros plaza, palm trees rustled overhead in the breeze and peddlers hawked their wares.  The two men I was translating for and I were tempted to relax and just enjoy the ambiance.  But we had asked the Lord to show us who was seeking him in the plaza that night and now we were waiting for His response. 
 
Ramond was not our original target.  The three of us initially zeroed in on a young couple seated on a park bench.  They were cordial enough to engage us in conversation, but it soon became apparent that these two were not the ones that we had prayed God would guide us to. 

As we talked about the claims of Christ, I noticed a scruffy character had drawn up alongside me.  He listened intently and then abruptly disappeared.  A few minutes he returned and continued to listen to our conversation.

Eventually he interrupted with an emotion-filled statement, “Necesito cambiar, pero no se como.” (“I want to change, but I don’t know how.”) He said.

I introduced myself. 
 
“I’m Ramond,” he said.  “I’ve done a lot of bad things in my life.  I’ve broken the laws.  I’ve taken people across into the U.S. and left them there.  I drink too much.   My life is a mess and I need to change.”
 
At this point another member of our group who had been an alcoholic walked up.  He began to share how God had delivered him from his own addiction.  Ramond seemed to be hanging on his every word. The conversation went on for some time.

“Ramond, the good news is that you can change,” I said.  “God sent His son Jesus to give you hope and to rescue you from your sins.  By repenting and choosing to follow Jesus, you will be given the power to overcome your addiction and your wrong behavior.” 
 
Ramond began to weep as we explained how it was possible to change his life.  Eventually we asked the question, “would you like to pray about this now?”

“But how do I pray?”  Ramond queried, a note of desperation in his voice.  He honestly didn’t know what to do.  We explained to him how to pray and eventually led him in a prayer asking Jesus to make a difference in his life and become his Lord.

Afterward we asked the local pastor to come over and meet Ramond.  They talked at length and the pastor gave Ramond a map to the church nearby.  It gave us a great feeling to not only see how God orchestrated the conversation, but to know that he had a caring local church to which he could go.
 
There are a lot of people like Ramond walking around looking for someone to listen and help. Too often, I’ve offered the gospel apologetically, forgetting that to folks Ramond it is good news indeed.  I need to ask God to lead me to them more often than I do. How about you?

Comments (17)

  • How often do we go about God’s business on our own strength, abandoning the power of the Holy Spirit who is precisely who we need to rely on. Ask and it shall be given, seek and you will find…but it is ask and seek God, not self. And yes, we need to quit apologizing…see what religion and church hurt has brought us to? We don’t need anymore religion. We need Jesus.

  • Frank Burder the third

    We are commanded to tell the story everyday of the Grace Gospel to the multitudes. This is not our home only a holding spot until we go home..

  • Thats SO beautiful! Desperate, hurting, lost people are everywhere around us. If we take that time to focus and ask God to open our eyes to see and to be willing to minister … don’t you wonder… gosh what if we weren’t there in that moment, at that time… what if we hadn’t been being servants to Christ, ministers? Ramond might of just kept going on longer in his darkness. It takes effort and willingness to be wholly available. To see. I don’t believe there is anything more fulfilling than to do exactly what you and your team of believers did and, as important, you didn’t walk away from him in glory that he was saved… you also hooked him up with a local pastor. Thats just as important as leading a person to Christ…to make sure they have someone, someplace to go to after, to be mentored. 🙂

  • This is an inspiring story. I want to stop and pray now for God to help me think this way as I go through life.

  • I am am a mother of 7 children and a registered nurse… My whole life has been my family And my children…. Yet ..,my husband had 2 affairs on me…actually no one in the church seemed to care.. I had more of a response from the sicular world:-( people that I thought would b there … Wasn’t”!! I am all alone ..,my heart breaks…! Now my children are broken cz what there dad did …,I can’t fix it .. I have tried …now I have 6 young men that will go out to the world and treat women like —- and I just can’t fix it!!

  • Sally,

    I’m sorry for the nitwit Christians who have made a show of their faith but have really been acting out a charade. And I’m sorry for the bad hand that life has dealt you.

    I can’t explain why some get grace and others struggle, but I do know that there’s power in prayer. If you’d like, I’d be happy to track down some people who would pray for you. They may even live close enough to do so in person.

    Let me ask you to give God just one more shot. Let me know if you’ll do that and I’ll do what I can.

  • Hi, thanks for the offer and your kind words. I am done giving god chances though. I gave him 22 years of my life, it is 4 years since I left church, and while my life is not transformed, it is a lot happier than it was when I had the additional burden oft he pain of why god was not there for me. I don’t intend to ever go back there.

  • Sally, I don’t completely understand what you’re going through but I have my struggles in life and don’t understand them all completely either. They surely do challenge me but having experienced the heart of God in all things surrounding me, though they may not always be pretty by any means, He exudes His love on them to remind us of His breath of reinvention, redemption and the fact that His love is unrelenting, no matter where we stand. Like one of my friends Peter Charlie, a blind widower running an orphanage of 15 kids from the bush of Mozambique, once told me, “No one is 100% poor. They struggle and hurt to receive what God wants for them.” It is a blessing to struggle if we look at it from a distance – a different perspective. Fire purifies (1 Peter 1). It hurts but is worth the pain in the long run (I have a hard time believing that sometimes but know it deep down) – glory. For what it’s worth, this stranger would love to listen to you, encourage you and share in this with you. I have been in those spots where I have felt totally abandoned before and said, “No way” but somehow unbeknownst to my feeble brain as to how, out of hell, God appeared. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I would love to hear from you!

  • Thankyou again. It’s not the struggles that were the issue, it was the absence of god. I cannot even put into words how much I loved Jesus and wanted him in my life, but I just couldn’t find him. I can only conclude he is not there.

  • How did you know God wasn’t there for you Sally? People have free wills so they will do what they choose… whether in church or not. That has nothing to do with God… people choose to be evil, mean, unkind, unfaithful. Sickness, death, pain, sorrow…. there is not one promise in the bible that says we won’t have those things. We are promised peace that passes understanding, joy in all circumstance and trials and sometimes we are surprised by complete healing and miracles.
    If your expectations of God color outside the lines of what has been given or promised in the Bible then your going to experience complete and utter disappointment. If you waited on peace or joy, strength etc… you would of been given those. We aren’t ever told we will be bailed out of anything, only that when we ask Jesus will illuminate a light through the pain. We can’t escape the sorrows of this life… this isn’t the part of the Bible where we are in Heaven… this is the part where the devil roams like a lion to devour us …. Jesus was hung on a cross in agonizing pain. Pain and suffering are the lot of human beings but Praise God He gives us supernatural courage, strength, joy unspeakable and peace to walk in faith to endure all things. Ask and it will be given but ask of the things promised. Not of things we expect but are not promised.

  • “If you waited on peace or joy, strength etc… you would of been given those.”

    UGH UGH UGH!!!!!

    Very neat isn’t it! “We know we are right and if it didn’t work like that for you then you must have been doing it wrong.”

    UGH!!!

  • Sally, there was no self righteous judgement intended in my comments, please know that. I apologize if it seemed so. I simply want to hear your heart. I’m not here for a quick fix or to preach at you, I just want to hear it from you. I know I like it when people just want to listen and value where I stand. I don’t want to “dish” out anything because I know that’s exactly what has made you sick – I have been there too.

    I don’t know why God chooses to be silent at times and show up in others, but I know the rushing of His love and voice when He moves & speaks. It’s enough to know that He does care. Sometimes, from my human perspective, I seem to think He might not but my heart says it’s not so because tere’s too much going on around me that points to Him to say that He doesn’t.

    What were you expecting it to look like when God was to be there?

  • Well, you did say life stinks and there is no god to bail us out so thats where I came to the conclusion you felt betrayed that you had not been bailed out of unfair circumstances.
    You have taken my words to say that I am saying He is there for all of us and just not you…thats twisting up what I was saying. I have NO idea how much or how long you waited for Him…you originally didn’t say. All you said was that He was absent. That you loved Him and He wasn’t there for you. I have no idea what you went through or what you said to Him or what you experienced in that void. You didn’t say. You said what your circumstances in this life are and how God was just not there to bail anyone out.
    You are on a Christian forum. You posted on here that God is a git and ineffectual and that you rather believe He doesn’t exsist. Why wouldn’t someone come along and say God is there and He is peace and love and joy…what else should we say? Your getting all offended at a response that was in defense of God. You have turned it around personally that I am saying He is there for everyone else but you or anyone else who just isn’t getting it right… like you must not of said the magic words right… go outside now and say them three more times and then howl at the moon. Nope. Not what I meant. In defense of God I said He is there and He will give peace and joy and comfort.

  • Colby, she was referring to my comment. Yours was nice.
    I came across as self righteous and judgmental… not words anyone who knows me would usually ever use … just goes to show how posting on forums with people you don’t know or don’t know you can end up being taken wrong … if someone knows you then they know your heart so they can see what you are generally trying to say. If they don’t know you at all and they are already hurt and feeling awful and that Christians are a brood of vipers… doesn’t take much to feed that one does it.

  • No Libby, I said god isn’t there. Where on earth do you get from what I wrote that I am saying that you said god is there for everyone except me?!! Maybe you should reread my post. You say “In defense of God I said He is there and He will give peace and joy and comfort.” You say “If you waited on peace or joy, strength etc… you would of been given those.” I was a Christian for 22 years and I never experienced any of that. You clearly state here that if I did not experience thaqt it was my fault for not “waiting on” it.

    You say I don’t know you- well you don’t know me- I gave god 22 years of my life and how do you expect me to respond when you write such things as the above. You assumed I expected an easy life, you assumed I was disappointed because I expected god to make it all lovely for me, that I blamed god if other Christians were less than perfect, that I did not seek his peace/ wait on him etc etc. That is a lot of assumptions and none of them very charitable!

    What I talked about in my OP was referring to the article above. Clearly I would have liked there to have been a god who would help me like that. But it didn’t happen and in 22 years my life only got worse. I know you don’t like that and it’s not what you want to hear, but you can’t just turn around and say “Well I know he is there and he would do it if you did X, Y or Z” etc, totally negating my experience, and making all kinds of assumptions about what I expected, wanted, did and so on.

    Then when I reply, you accuse me of treating you badly because all you were doing is “defending god”. Does your god need you to defend him? Do you think that if you tell me that he is there and ready to help me and it’s my fault he didn’t because I got it all wrong somehow, I will say “Ah yes, now I see!”. If you are right and that is what happened- how would you explain that? In 22 years of Christianity, encompassing various denominations from childhood through to adulthood and beyond, reading all kinds of mainstream Christian resources, Alpha (twice) being baptised as an adult etc etc, I got it so wrong that god was somehow unable to give me even a drop of this peace, joy etc which is supposed to be there waiting for me? Do you seriously expect me to accept that? To not be hurt? Is that really reasonable of you?

    I do not think Christians are a “brood of vipers”. My best friend is a Christian (yes really). I do think that heartless, judgemental, blaming, defensive Christians like you are like vipers though, yes, good description, thanks for that! It’s rude to talk about someone in front of them online by the way. This has nothing to do with whether I know your heart- your words were clear-“If you waited on peace or joy, strength etc… you would of been given those.” etc. Seems crystal clear to me, or did you misrepresent your views?

    Well, Libby, I can only thank you really. When a kind-hearted Christian like Colby talks to me, I sometimes feel tempted to try again, even though I have done that several time and know it only ends in tears. Thanks to you coming along and butting into our conversation, I have now been reminded of just how toxic the Christian religion is for me, and will be running as fast I can in the opposite direction!

    I will leave you now to enjoy your self-righteous indignation and self-justification, which you are no doubt currently experiencing.

    Thanks for trying Colby, you’re clearly a very kind and loving-hearted person and I appreciate you trying to help me. I love what you said in your last message but I can’t stick around here and put my head over the parapet for more of the above, it is too painful, and also has no prospect of being constructive. I am sorry I posted here, especially if it has been seen as rude for someone questioning god to post on a Christian site, as Libby has said. I was feeling very desperate that day and searching for anything about how to change my life for the better, and came across the article and wanted to say something about how this is not everyone’s experience. I apologise if I have caused offence.

    As for your question, I don’t really know what I expected it to look like. Something like what other Christians claim to experience I suppose. I expected it to look like…. something, not nothing. I might have accepted nothing, if it had come along with the ability to sustain faith without anything, but I didn’t have that, and so I lost the little faith I had. And now there is nothing where belief should be as well.

  • Just to add that I took the time to reply to you Libby, in hope that you will think about what I said and maybe change the way you will respond to hurting Christians and ex-Christians in the future. If I could spare someone else this hurt then it makes what I have been through more worthwhile. I know the most likely result is you will get all huffy and offended and start justifying why everything you have said is right, fair and appropriate, but at least I will have tried.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Radical Living:

Receive updates on the latest posts as Seth Barnes covers many topics like spiritual formation, what if means to be a christian, how to pray, and more. Radical Living blog is all about a call to excellence in ministry, church, and leadership -as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



© Adventures In Missions. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy