Jim was a spiritual junkyard. He lived in Alaska, took frequent trips to Mexico, and did a lot of business in California, but it was a business that ruined him. He trafficked cocaine.
Not only did Jim traffic cocaine, he was addicted to it. He was also an alcoholic whose life was frequently in danger, whose family
was a mess, whose kids had inherited the ravages of their father's lifestyle, whose health was deteriorating, and who had no clue which way was up. Jim was as messed up as a person can get.
Somehow, by the grace of God, Jim found Jesus - or Jesus found him - in Alaska. Knowing he couldn't keep his family safe or grow as a Christian among his former network of associates, he moved to northern California and took a low-profile job as a janitor in a local school. He began coming to our church and, over time, helped out a few other addicts who had found their way into our fellowship.
Jim grew as a disciple of Jesus as my wife exercised her gift of mercy, one of our other ministers invested his gift of exhortation, and the whole fellowship offered their gifts of hospitality and encouragement. Eventually, our church hired Jim as custodian, and God gave him more opportunities to work with other addicts.
Jim began to pray about God's plan for his life. God put it in his heart to take a trip to southern California to see how Saddleback Church's Celebrate Recovery program worked, and within a year after that trip, Jim had helped establish one of the largest Celebrate Recovery
programs in the state. Word got out into the community, and that ministry of our church flourished - we even hired him fulltime to lead the recovery ministry - all because a former junkie and trafficker discovered what God had designed him to do.
That's God's plan for everyone. Like the “Extreme Makeover”
people on TV who take an old, run-down house and turn it into a drastically upgraded home that perfectly fits the interests and dreams of the family that lives there, God wants to take each of our lives and radically change them to fit His plan and our design.
In other words, you are a masterpiece in the making.
The Artist at Work
Like a masterful artist, God is painting a picture with your life. He is recreating you in Christ for a specific purpose. You can find out what that purpose is, and you can live in it daily.
Paul's letter to the Ephesians spells it out for us. It tells us that God knew each of us before the foundation of the world. He designed us the way we are for a reason, arranged for our salvation, and planned out His extreme makeover process. Not only that, Ephesians 2:10 tells us that He already has a special set of good works He wants us to do. “We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
In Jim's case, God had long ago decided to rescue him, restore him, and give him a ministry of recovery that kept on mushrooming in our church and changing lives in our community. In your case, the makeover will likely look different, but the dynamic will be the same.
If you want to know the blueprint for God's extreme makeovers, read Ephesians 2:1-10 sometime. We all start off dead in our sins, captives in a dark world, and objects of God's wrath. But because of His mercy, we were made alive with Jesus and seated with Him in heavenly realms. That has already happened, and we didn't do anything to deserve it. It's pure grace that we receive only by faith
. Then - and this is a key point that many Christians don't notice - God desires to show His extraordinary grace in our lives and to lead us into the works we were created for. This is ultimately about Him. Our makeover is a demonstration of His glory.
Before and After
How does it happen? Are we like superheroes who walk into a closet as one person and then come out completely transformed? What does 2 Corinthians 5:17 really mean when it says that we who are in Christ are new creatures?