The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. They recognized him as the one who sat begging at the Temple’s Gate Beautiful and rubbed their eyes, astonished, scarcely believing what they were seeing. Acts 3:8-10 (TM)
Last Thursday night my friend and I shuffled along the streets of downtown Des Moines. He and his wife lead their church’s youth group. They had just returned from a youth conference at which one of the girls in their youth group invited Jesus into her heart and life. The evening sun baked down on us as we walked across a bridge over the Des Moines River. and we discussed the event. While overjoyed at the girl’s decision to give her life to Christ, and fully believing her sincerity, he still worried about the changes she would have to make in her life. He wondered if her new faith would grow, put down roots and bear fruit, or if it would be choked to death by the weeds of her old life.
I sometimes read the accounts of miracles in scripture and wonder what became of the people in the days and weeks following their miraculous recovery. What was it like for the lame beggar the morning after God healed his legs? When he had exhausted himself doing cartwheels and came home from partying and celebrating with his friends, what kind of shock was it to have his family say, "you’ve got to get a job tomorrow morning!"
After Peter gained an audience from the healing of the beggar, he addressed the crowd and got to the crux of the issue: "Now it’s time to change your ways!" Having a relationship with Christ is not an just an event. A miraculous encounter with Jesus is powerful, but it’s just a moment in time. The most important part is what comes after the event. When you strike out on the long road of lasting life change.
My friend and I walked in the heat of an Iowa summer and I shared his concern for this young woman. She’s coming home to face a difficult home life, a host of negative influences, and winding trail of past lies and deceits. Some would look at her life and see almost nothing of any real value.
It’s a good thing God is in the business of redemption.