Common ground: God forgives and restores

Published 5:50 am Sunday, February 17, 2019

We all stand on common ground when it comes to making bad choices and terrible decisions but this does not have to be the end of our story. Missing the mark is common when we give our emotions the power to guide and lead us and we can make a mess out of things in a hurry. However, there is a huge difference between allowing our mistakes to keep us in the bondage of hopelessness and believing that he can save and deliver us.

Since many of our problems come from obeying our carnal influences, the Lord declares that our true success depends on how much we are willing to surrender our desires, reach out to him by faith, and live according to his plans. Of all the decisions we will make in our lifetime, there is no better resolution than to walk with our Savior and obey his voice.

Proverbs 3:3-4 says, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.” God knows us better than we know ourselves and our life can be a journey of hope and joy when we know that we can trust him with everything.

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When we suffer because of our bad decisions, we have yet another choice: To either accept being defeated or to ask Jesus to do a deep work in us and bring us out the other side victorious. Many will scoff at this statement because they believe their situation is beyond anyone’s help, and that even God cannot fix our mess. Some might say, “Even if God can hear me, what do I say to him?”

Well, first we can realize there are consequences for our negative thoughts and actions and that our idea of recovery and restoration is probably not a part of the same plan that he has. We can also humbly accept that it was our twisted plots and schemes that caused the problem in the first place. Conviction is good because it allows us to see the truth and when we ask Christ to forgive us he will remove the condemnation. Within this restoring process, the best thing we can do is to let go and let God. In other words, we have already tried it our way and now it’s time to be respectful and submissive so that he can heal, recreate, and lead us into our perfect destiny.

For those who are familiar with professional basketball, I’m sure you will remember a player named Vinny Baker. He was a 6’11” power forward and a top 10 draft pick in 1993. In his first five years he averaged around 20 points per game and in 1999, he signed a seven-year, $86 million contract with the Seattle Supersonics. You would think this would be the ultimate summit for someone who had worked so hard but in this case, there was also another type of high: The one that comes from drugs and alcohol.

While being influenced by his friends and other players he started smoking pot and drinking as the life of a professional athlete involves a lot of opportunities to party. He was getting wasted before games and before long, he was even drinking during games. One night he was so stoned that he wondered if he could even function but somehow ended up scoring 41 points. Eventually, the partying began to take its toll on his mental and physical health and after being traded a few times he was finally out of the league in 2006.

After struggling with several rehab failures, Baker started going to a Bible study. His lifestyle had changed and one day as he was crying out to God, he felt an urgency to call his old boss who owned the Seattle team. During a meeting with Howard Schultz, Vinny told the owner he just wanted a fresh start, which led him to humbly accept a barista position at a Starbucks. After losing more than $100 million, he was now at peace with God and himself.

Through a series of miracles, he has now moved on to broadcasting and development work with the Milwaukee Bucks, and he’s also working with an organization to open rehabilitation centers around the country. Whatever has happened and wherever you are today, God wants to forgive you, restore you, and fill you with his love and peace.

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