I love the story of Louis Zamperini, told in the best-selling book Unbroken and two movies. Louis was an Olympic athlete and soldier in World War II who endured unimaginable torture in a Japanese war camp. He survived, only to have personal demons threaten to destroy his life.
One day, he found himself sitting under a big tent, listening to the stirring words of Billy Graham, which were calling him to a new life in Jesus. Louis fought the invitation. He wanted to get out of there. But after an intense internal struggle, he started to yield. He surrendered to Christ. And then, everything changed. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Louis turned his life around and forgave his former oppressors.
That day in the tent, Louis experienced a “Damascus road” moment. Like the dramatic conversion of the Apostle Paul, it was a turning point. As Christ followers, we all have some version of this moment. Mine was at a Promise Keepers conference in 2002. I had the same reaction as Louis — I wanted to get out of there! But then I started to yield, and I never stopped.
What about you? Even if you have been blessed to know the Lord intimately your whole life, there was surely a point when Jesus became real to you, and you made him the Lord of your life. I don’t believe you need to be like Paul — struck by the audible voice of Jesus while persecuting Christians and blinded for three days — for your experience to count. Christ will meet you where you are.
God has a clear purpose for these turning points. It’s not changing our direction without reason. It’s turning us toward something — toward a mission he has prepared for us.
… when we yield to the Spirit, the Miracle Worker takes over!—Edgar Sandoval Sr., World Vision U.S. president
For Paul, it was to spread the message of salvation through Christ to the gentiles. For Louis Zamperini, it was to embody the forgiveness we can only achieve through faith. For me, it was transformation: of myself, my family, and now, with World Vision, joining a global movement to transform the world in the name of Christ. As a World Vision supporter, you are part of this mission too.
The challenges affecting vulnerable children around the world are numerous and immense. The work of removing obstacles is unending and intense. I could spend all my time executing strategies and examining reports. I would be busy, but would I be effective? Not if I rely on my own strength.
Friends, we can never get too far away from our “Damascus road” moment. We can never forget that we are surrendered people. And we can never stop allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us, more and more, into the image of Christ. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Paul says in Romans 12:2. As the Holy Spirit transforms us, all we need to do is yield willingly and expectantly.
And what can we expect? Nothing short of miracles. You see, when we yield to the Spirit, the Miracle Worker takes over!
When enemies become friends and cultural barriers come down in the Middle East, we know why — the Miracle Worker has taken over.
As you read, think about your own “Damascus road” moment and journey of transformation. Ask yourself, “Are my eyes open to what the Miracle Worker is doing in and through my life?”