Monday, April 13, 2015

More Grace - remembering Charles Colson

The name reminds me of a chance "meeting" with "Chuck" Colson, many years ago.  I was in Northern California to attend a weekend conference for executives on the subject of "Better Communications" and I had arrived on the afternoon, prior to an opening session on Friday evening. I decided to take a nap as I was among the first to arrive and was sound asleep when the phone rang in the room I would be sharing with another man.  I answered it and the voice thought I was "Bob" - the other fellow.  "Bob, this is Chuck, we need you in Washington early Monday morning."  "Excuse me, sir, Bob must be my roommate for the weekend.  He has not arrived, yet."  "Well, have him call me at the "quiet" number.  He will know what I mean", he said and hung up.  Bob did not arrive until halfway through the evening session.

At a break, I met Bob and told him of the message.  He immediately responded with "Thank you, I am Bob Halderman.  Good to meet you."  We exchanged greetings and went back to the session.

Little did I realize at he time, but I had just met, two of the major characters in what was to be known as the "Watergate affair " that gripped and held the attention of Washington, DC, for many years.

As a result, I played closer attention to the activities of the two and was amazed, as the roommate I came to know as a good friend, had been deeply involved.  Years later, we had a chance meeting on a airplane returning to Los Angeles and we had a pleasant conversation as if nothing had ever happened to him.  I did not ask about his friend, "Chuck" as I already knew more than I cared to know.

It seemed as though we were both struggling with our religious beliefs and after he had become successful with his prison ministry, I started visiting prisons with another organization.  Our beliefs differed as I had met a friend who had killed another good friend - after we were all had met on board a troopship in route to Japan.  By chance, some would say, my prisoner friend had become a Christian and years later we worked together to obtain his release from prison.  He attributed our "chance" meeting to God's grace at work in our lives, long before I came to understand the idea of Grace.  And it was his belief that eventually led me to the same belief.  "For by Grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."  (Ephesians 2:8) 

An so we come to Colson's book, A Dangerous Grace, daily readings, which he co-authored with an associate, Nancy R.  Pearcey.  I searched in vain for Colson's interpretation of Grace and found the word only merely mentioned three times in the 332 pages of his exhortations to "be good/do good" and never did he seem to understand the role of God's Grace in the lives of those he considered to be - converted.  I never thought that I would comment of his teachings as my experiences with prisoners, heart-to-heart talks rather than the recitation of a few Bible verses, was that unless they came to an authentic relationship with God - through His gifts, they merely continued in the ways that had led them to prison and tried to convince others that were, Christian - a game that I became good at playing for nearly forty-five years.

So, I turned recently to Nancy Pearcey's thoughts about this "dangerous" Grace being promoted in the book and much of Colson's teachings through various of his organizations and other books.  She says, "I pray that this book will convey a sense of of God's unsettling but exhilarating power to make us in both heart and mind."  Earlier she had stated, "God is determined to make us the best we can be, and He will never let us rest comfortably in our weaknesses and works ceaselessly to remake us us into His image and the character of Christ.

A strange interpretation of the established scripture that states emphatically that "...because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me (the Apostle Paul) from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me - to keep me from exalting myself.  Concerning this, I entreated the Lord three times  that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, My Grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.  Most gladly therefore I will rather boast in my weakness that the power of Christ may dwell in me."  II Corinthians 12:7-9)

A Dangerous Grace?  I don't think so, especially in His book!

1 comment:

  1. He works in mysterious ways. They may not be our ways, but they sure are interesting.