Saturday, September 11, 2021

A Contract out on your life?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

There is a hymn that I enjoy which celebrates the "wonderful change"  the Lord Jesus can make in a sinner's life. It is called "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart." and the first verse goes like this-

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought   
Since Jesus came into my heart!
I have light in my soul for which long I had sought,
Since Jesus came into my heart!

Here is a story that illustrates this only too well. Violent John Lawson had done it all - from planning robberies and running London's biggest brothel to kidnap and extortion. He was even cold-heartedly planning a murder, until his life was radically changed. His 'legit' side was working as a bodyguard for Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond and bands like REM and AC/DC.
John describes his former self as a 'horrible animal', but the John of that time did not know someone had a contract out on him - someone more powerful than he could have ever imagined. Awaiting trial, and with his assets frozen, the desperate career criminal could not believe “his luck” when he spotted what he thought was a wallet lying in the gutter. His heart began to beat faster as he opened the wallet to see how much money was in it, but his heart quickly slowed when he discovered the wallet was not real, but a leaflet about Christianity. The design had had the desired effect of making John pick it up and read it, but by the time he had waited ten anxious months for his trial, the message he had read was just a distance memory. However, God had only just begun His work on John Lawson..

His prison sentence ruined his family life, but God finally caught up with him while in prison. It was there that he was befriended by a Nigerian man, Tony, who was constantly “harping on about God”.  Persuaded by Tony, John went along to listen to a prison Bible study led by a preacher, when he heard there was coffee, cake and biscuits on offer. He thought Christians were weak, vulnerable, pathetic people and planned to fill his pockets with sugary treats as soon as they were all praying in a 'holy huddle' However, when he saw the other prisoners were so happy, and singing praise to God, John's 'hard shell' cracked. He could not hide the tears as the words of the songs 'spoke' to his heart.

The next morning his Nigerian friend gave him a Bible, where he read in Ezekiel, “if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die”. John knew he was a “wicked man”, so he went back to the preacher, who told him the good news of Jesus Christ. Back in his cell, John asked God to forgive him for all he had done wrong and trusted in the Lord Jesus to be his Saviour. He experienced God's presence in his prison cell, and knew he was changed for ever. 

Following his release from prison in May 2007  he became involved with an outreach and training ministry, which now sees him going into prisons around the world. Asked by BBC presenter Louise White if this work was his “redemption”, John  said “No”. “Everything was done for me on that cross. Christ took everything. There is no need for me to do anything else.  I am so thankful that God rescued me.  God has amazing plans for our lives and I thank him every day for saving a wretch like me!” 
Can you say like John Lawson:- 
I have ceased from my wand’ring and going astray,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And my sins which were many are all washed away,
Since Jesus came into my heart!

Written by Peter Francis for Messages with Meaning (07/09/21) & Your542Day 


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