I love to read, but as I have mentioned before, I am pretty picky about what things I pick up. Not only do I stay away from fiction, romance, and the other genres, but I also tend to bypass those “hot sellers” that “everyone” is reading (mind you I have read some, but they are not usually my top choice). So when I found myself browsing the shelves at work last week to pick up a new book to read, imagine my surprise when I was constantly being drawn back to David Wilkerson’s book “The Cross and the Switchblade”. This is a Christian classic….one of those books that everyone has either read or heard about…and if they haven’t read or heard about the book then they at least know about Teen Challenge (which is the ministry that David Wilkerson started and what they book is about). Yet of all the millions of choices out there, this is the book I walked away with….and amazingly, once again, it’s a book I couldn’t have read at a better time.
I’m not going to go into detail about the book, because as I’ve mentioned most people have read it or heard about it, but I will say the one thing that really stood out to me in every chapter of this book is how God can truly change people. If I were honest, there are times when I wonder if people can ever really change…or if even if they do change for a bit, if those changes can last forever. I look at my own life and lives of people I love and I see example after example of “momentary” changes, but to believe in lasting change is hard for me. Then I think about Paul’s life and how God changed him instantly on the road to Damascus…and I think about how different the disciples became after Jesus called them (and even more so after the day of Pentecost)…and I know it’s possible….but I wonder what about today…in this century….in my life and lives of those I love…where is this kind of change now?
These are just some of the thoughts going through my head this week as I began reading this book. Yet as I read about how God called David out of his comfortable life to NYC, how He “saved” Nicky Cruz, and even how these former drug addicts and gang members were delivered….my faith lifted a bit. You can’t deny the power of God when you see it…or even when you read about it. God can do the impossible…even the improbable….even when we don’t expect it or believe it (I love the honestly David has in this book when he shares his doubts about certain people “really” changing…and how God amazes even him by doing just that in their lives)! I think it’s easy sometimes to look around the world we live and wonder where God is….wonder if he’s even moving…but then I read stories like this and I am reminded that God is constantly at work and he’s in the business of changing lives! And its funny how a little reminder like that helps you to start seeing the “changes” God’s making all around you! I needed to read a book like this, in this moment, to remind me to keep the faith….to open my eyes….to keep hope alive! So maybe there’s a reason why a classic is called a “classic”!