Over 80 years ago, there was a movement that would change the course of history. A charismatic leader began to speak to the public, promising a life filled with happiness and security. Many times, this leader would speak with children by his side to show his support of the furtherance of securing the children’s future. The problem was not what was promised, but rather the method by which he felt this security and prosperity would occur.
In 1923, this same leader wrote a book, while in prison, called Mein Kompf (My struggle) where he filled the pages of why he hated Jews so much. In this horrific text, Adolf Hitler gives his hate-filled explanation that Jews were the reason why Germany was in so much trouble. Obviously, this was influenced by the Prince of Darkness, Satan, himself. However, out of this terrible time period of history, influenced by evil, there were countless stories of survivors.
Some had survived mass military style executions. Some had survived the concentration camps. Others ran for their lives and hid while their families were gathered for execution. Regardless of the stories, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their survival, there seems to be a common theme among each of these survivor stories – they survived and wanted to make a positive difference.
Have you gone through something so traumatic, so horrific that you wondered why you survived? Do you think it may be possible that your survival was meant for something so much more?
These questions came to mind after my experience in 1993. After I had survived an attack while someone was attempting to steal my car, I began to look at my life and ask myself some questions. Why did I survive? What was I supposed to learn from this? How can this be used to benefit others? I also began to look back at my life and realized something, God had been (and continues) protecting me all my life.
In 1972, as a young toddler, I pulled a piping hot coffee pot onto me. I had been burned on most of my chest. When I was a little bit older, I had a habit of climbing up into trees that swayed freely in the wind on branches that shouldn’t have held me. As time went on, I had fought every day for 3 straight years because I had been fed up with being bullied. Right after high school, I had made a trip to Haiti with my church only to find out that within minutes of taking off to leave Haiti, a coup had occurred and our safety would have been in jeopardy, had we stayed or been delayed. Even after all of this, God allowed me to survive the attack in 1993. It was because of this, I concluded that God had been saving me for a purpose.
As I began to pray and reach out to God, he graciously began to reveal why I had been allowed to survive. He showed me the story of Peter drowning but surviving because Jesus Christ had pulled Peter to safety. He showed me the stories of Paul, who was shipwrecked at sea and stoned for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Both of these men had once rejected God, rejected the Savior and yet it was the same Jesus who called them into a relationship with him and allowed their survival to have a purpose, to make a positive difference in the lives of others. It was through these stories that I realized my life was not my own. In fact, my life was saved for the same reason as Paul and Peter, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, before I could share the Gospel, I also needed to realize that my life was not where God wanted it to be either. It was then I began to make the commitment to grow in the faith given to me so that I can help in fulfilling the greatest commission ever given to mankind:
“Therefore, go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
It was during this time of learning that I found out how inefficient I was at sharing the message of Jesus Christ. God allowed me to realize I had preconceived ideas about people groups and philosophies. He showed me that to neglect those who are considered the lowest of my time is to reject Jesus Christ and His message. It was revealed to me that my prejudices, my dislikes were not toward a specific action but toward a people who were different than I. How could I make a positive difference if I held so many sins in my life?
You see, I learned my life was an anger filled, hatred, bigoted and filled with lies. I was able to convince people of things that never even happened in my life. The process of learning who I was, was not easy. It hurt. It was very painful but it was necessary. It was necessary for me to allow God to destroy the wickedness inside of me to produce a branch that had good fruit on it. This good fruit would benefit others in a positive way by leading them back to the Savior.
Through Scripture I learned that I was a new creation in Christ. The old me had passed away and the new me was birthed. This then led me to the painful journey of evaluation. I needed to ask God, what David asked of him, to destroy any wicked way in me. From there, I needed to realize that those who tried to take my life, did so out of ignorance and blindness. The book of Romans teaches that all have sinned and we all fall short of the glory of God. Therefore, the only difference between me and my attackers were that Jesus called to me and I responded. They have yet to respond to His calling.
After this, I learned that Jesus ate and spent time with people who were thought to be useless in society. He had healed those who had ailments from birth, sickness for many years, people who were thought to be property and not people. The leaders of his day asked how he could eat and spend time with such people. It was then Jesus showed his compassion by saying that the sick need a doctor, so these people need him.
You and I need Jesus in our lives. We need to rely on His power, His strength and His wisdom to get us through each and every day. We may struggle with being a survivor, with anxieties and paranoia but we also are called by Jesus to be His because He loves us. Survivors, like us, are meant for something bigger.
Over the past few years, I have watched as people I know have passed away for various reasons. Some from cancer or accidents or old age. I evaluated the lifestyles of each of these and came to the following conclusion….life and death are in the hands of God. It is not up to us how long we live, it is up to God.
Being a survivor means, God has given us the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Being a survivor means, that we have a purpose greater than ourselves. Being a survivor means we have been saved to share that experience with others to lead them straight to the cross of Jesus Christ.
If you ever wondered why your life was spared, read the book of Acts. Read about those who survived many trials and tribulations, yet had the fortitude to proceed with the responsibility that God placed into their hands.
Hopefully, you and I can also live lives that God is not only pleased with but that will make a positive difference in others. So what do you say? Are you ready to begin the next phase of your journey? Are you ready to help others? Are you ready to share your story?
How has your survivor story positively influenced others? Share your story in the comments box.
May God continue to use you as He sees fit. God bless and encourage someone today.