Monday, February 2, 2009

Learning to Watch and Pray

As believers we have a real choice to stop and pray when events churn out of control. Kent is a perfect example of this problem. When he arrived at my office he was more than simply troubled; he was afraid for his life. He had drifted away from the Lord through neglecting prayer and the Bible. Saved as a child, he knew the Lord was real, but because he was not grounded in a good church, he didn't grow as a believer. When he met Sue in college, he was swept away with her sweet charm. The fact that she was an unbeliever didn't deter Kent from pursuing her with all his heart. One year after the were married her uncle offered Kent a "job" with the "firm" he worked for. Over the next five years Kent made over $20,000.00 per week as a major drug distributor. He also became involved in money laundering; his keen mind and expert administrative skills made him a natural for such "work." As the money rolled in, Kent purchased a major nightclub and rode in a stretch limousine. At times, he felt grieved in his spirit; he responded by drinking and engaging in a sexual affair. At that point his marriage began to fall apart. Late one night Sue tried to take her life, and Kent began to wake up and took a look at his life. Meanwhile, a godly woman took an interest in Sue and invited her to a ladies' Bible study. In time Sue received the Lord. One evening as he was traveling home, the police pulled Kent's car over. He was arrested on suspicion of committing murder when the gun used in the murder was traced to Kent. (Kent owned the weapon; it had been stolen from his home two days earlier.) Kent said, "That night was the longest night of my life. Around 2 A.M. I began to pray. I hadn't prayed in years, not seriously anyway, but that night I told God if He would come to my rescue I would turn my life over to Him, lock, stock, and barrel." Which, in Kent's world, could be taken literally! God heard Kent's prayer that night. Through an anonymous tip the real killer was arrested. The new suspect confessed to stealing the gun and using it to take a life. Kent was free. God chose to answer this sinner's prayer. And Kent did recommit his life to Christ. Kent's story is highly dramatic, involving much money and murder. God, of course, can answer any sinner's prayer-deliver him or her from any problem, big or small. When he was released from jail, Kent told Sue of his prayer and God's answer. She wept as she explained to him that she was now a believer in Christ. Within days Kent approached his "employer" and told him he was leaving the "firm." This was extremely dangerous, as anyone would understand who has read books like John Grisham's The Firm. Within hours, a bullet periced the windshield of Sue's car (a warning shot to get Kent's attention) while she was driving. A message left on his answering machine informed Kent that he needed to rethink what he was doing, "or else." As I prayed with Kent, completely at a loss as to how to counsel him, the verse "Agree with your adversary quickly" (see Matthew 5:25) came into my mind. I said to Kent, "Go to your employer and ask him what it will take to be released." Kent wanted out desperately but didn't want to jeopardize his family. So he visited his "boss" and laid out his situation. He shared Christ with him, he asked what it would take to get out alive. His boss made it simple: "Everything you own." Kent swallowed a large dose of pride and financial worry and decided God's way was better than his way. He signed over the club, his home, and several other investments. His "boss" allowed him to keep all household furnishings and one car. Kent told me, "I signed over in excess of three million dollars in property, but I gained my freedom." I was reminded of the verse "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:37). Today Kent and Sue live in a three-bedroom home. Their two children are well adjusted. Kent and Sue walk with the Lord and serve Him faithfully. Their story in its entirety would make a great book. Kent says when the time is right, he wants to write it. For now, though, he is "content in the Lord." What was Kent's sin? He had vexed his righteous soul because he was in the midst of a group of wicked people. The devil's lie was "Kent, you're a smart, gifted man You can have anything you put your mind to." The truth answered this though with a question: "But at what price?" What price are you willing to pay to gain freedom, truth, love, peace? Aren't they worth "everything," as Kent discovered? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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