Monday, April 23, 2012

Chuck Colson has died--"Precious in the sight of the LORD"

Sunset from Colson's Hill
 (Photo credit: EssjayNZ)
Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.
--Psalm 116:15_NIV

Evil applauds darkness and secrecy, and goodness loves light and openness. Among many who have walked in both darkness and the light, and choosing light, Charles Colson stands out in American life and around the world. That's what I'm thinking about, reflecting on the recent news of Charles Colson's death at age 80. 

Like many people who never met him face to face, on the news of his death my thoughts flooded with memories connected with his name, during dark days and during days walking in the light. Like so many people today, I thank God for the redemption offered by God for the world through Jesus Christ and accepted by renewed souls daily, often in quiet, unobserved places. God's Spirit revealed Truth to Charles Colson in one of the man's most desperate hours, if not the most desperate hour, of his life. God transformed him into a gracious and selfless child of God.

Charles Colson, a power-holder in the White House under President Nixon, was a counselor to the President and one who could "make or break" people and ideas; he became a man scorned by Congress, convicted in court, and then a prisoner. 

Charles Colson was born again before he went to a federal prison for seven months for Watergate-era crime. Skepticism abounded among Christians and unbelievers, thinking that Mr Colson's new claim of faith might be due to desperation of facing prison rather than an experience of God. 

While in prison, Charles Colson bore continual and faithful witness free of bitterness or blame for others. He comforted with the comfort he had received from God

Mr. Colson, like so many of us, including those reading this now, knew what it was and what it meant to go completely from soul-deadening darkness to soul-saving light; and when he reached the Light, he remained in it.     

Surely this living hope of life with God after death on earth comforts his family and other loved ones. Surely it comforts many freed from prison and others still in prison, men and women, whose lives were touched for good by the transformed man, Charles Colson, since 1976 when he, an ex-prisoner, began a lifelong and faithful ministry to prisoners, through the non-profit Prison Fellowship. The Colson Center was formed later.

Death's Midnight
The Bible says that death is the last enemy; at the Cross, Jesus defeated sin; His Resurrection announced the defeat of death's terrors for all who believe on Him. After death to sin to new life in Christ, life changes in significant ways. Similarly, it seems that many everyday followers of Christ die without fanfare or any semblance of being the center of attention.  

  • A British academic and Christian writer, C. S. Lewis, died in the shadow of mourning the assassination of an inspiring American president, John F. Kennedy.
  • An Albanian girl who became known as Mother Teresa died in the shadow of the mourning the death of a beloved British princess, Diana.
  •  Now, a helper of prisoners in the name of Christ, Charles Colson, has died in the shadow of mourning for an admired American journalist, Mike Wallace. 

Precious in the sight of the LORD...
Members of mainstream media and cable news after his conversion and release from prison lost interest in Charles Colson, as happens for many public people who experience the life-changing gift of God's forgiveness. Like so many transformed people previously followed by major media reporters, Chuck Colson, as a devoted follower of Christ, worked within different circles...prisons, teams of Prison Fellowship, and others. He preached, as well, evangelizing whenever opportunities arose. He cared about the decay of American society witnessed by so many who love their country. He wanted the church to be like salt in the world, preserving good character in national and personal life; he wanted unsaved people to meet the living Christ. 

A fitting tribute to this faithful and generous life would be, I think, to do something through Prison Fellowship to help meet prison families' needs, spiritual and material.  

From the Colson Center - "Salt in a Decaying Culture" by Chuck Colson
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