When Darryl Burton stopped going to church, his grandmother warned him, “One of these days, boy, you are going to need Jesus. I hope you remember to call on Him.” Burton didn’t think much of his grandmother’s advice at the time, but she was right.
In 1985, Burton was convicted of a murder he didn’t commit and sent to prison. For the next fifteen years, as he later recounted, “I was really angry and upset and really frustrated about my situation and being wrongfully imprisoned.” Finally he remembered his grandmother’s words and said to himself, “Well, I have tried everything but God, what do I have to lose.”
Several people had been persistently witnessing to Burton, and because of their influence he gave his life to Jesus. Centurion Ministries, which takes on cases of the wrongly convicted, came alongside to help with his legal challenges. It took eight more years, but eventually a judge overturned Burton’s conviction.
Now Burton shares his testimony in the local church where he serves as pastor, and his ministry touches people around the world. He has an insightful way of viewing what happened to him: “God had to work something out of me (bitterness and hatred), in order to work something into me (love and grace), in order to do His work through me.”
Everyone’s life includes certain imposed confinements, which are sometimes as real as prison bars. We all face limitations—sometimes physical, sometimes financial, sometimes geographical, sometimes vocational. We must decide whether we’re going to let our problems hem us in or whether we’re going to let Him enter our space for His glory.
How we deal with our limitations is at the core of our character. The same was true in biblical times. Some of the heroes of Scripture were hemmed in by massive problems; others weren’t as confined. But all of them faced challenges that drove them to the Lord.
Take Esther, for example. Talk about limitations! She was an exiled and orphaned Jew living in the Persian city of Susa and being cared for by an older relative named Mordecai. Esther probably thought hers was a limited future, destined to obscurity. But God had given Esther the gift of physical beauty, and when King Ahasuerus needed a new queen she became the unlikely candidate. Almost overnight, Esther, whose Jewish heritage was a secret, found herself in the corridors of power, caught up in a web of political intrigue that threatened the very survival of the Jewish people. She also confronted an evil archenemy, Haman, and had to overcome his plot to destroy her and her people.
The word God is found nowhere in the book of Esther, but the Lord’s unseen hand is everywhere helping Esther, Mordecai, and the Jewish people in their moment of crisis. The fast-paced book of Esther shows there are no coincidences for the children of God. If we encounter problems, it’s because God allows them. If we face limitations, it’s because God wants us to overcome them. If we feel confined or trapped, we have an open channel above us and can approach the throne of grace.
When it comes to our problems, then, we have two choices. We can either let them confine our possibilities or we can let them clarify our potential.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, David Jeremiah