A fresh start is never far away.
BY TOBIN PERRY
At nearly 6 feet 2 inches tall, Iris Urrey always felt out of place and ugly. Deep down she wanted to be special in someone’s eyes. She longed to be seen as a lady. But in the world where she grew up, ladies — the ones the men wanted to be with — were small and quiet. Iris is neither. Convinced she could never get attention by being herself, Iris tried whatever she could to turn heads. That quickly led her to rebel against her Christian family. The more she rebelled, the more guilt and regret she faced, which led to more rebellion.
Eventually, the vicious cycle resulted in a seven-year prison sentence for armed robbery. Even after her release, Iris continued her downward spiral.
Convinced she could never get attention by being herself, Iris tried whatever she could to turn heads.
Initially, Iris’ mom refused to open up to her church family about her daughter’s problems. But, during one Wednesday night prayer meeting, she could no longer conceal her pain. She told them: “I need prayer for my daughter. She’s not sick. She’s not in another town working. She’s been in prison, and I’m asking you to please pray for her salvation.”
The Bible teaches in James 5:16 that the “urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful.” God will use the prayers of our family to help people looking for a fresh start. How can we pray together as a family this month for those who are really struggling?
Because Iris’ mom opened up to her church family about her daughter, Roger Mason*, a concerned church member, became especially burdened to take action. He began calling Iris just to say one thing: “Jesus loves you.” And every time, she’d hang up on him. The calls kept coming. Finally, Roger said he’d stop calling if she would meet him once. Iris agreed.
At first, Iris couldn’t wait to get rid of Roger. She had so much regret that she wanted nothing to do with spiritual matters. Yet she listened. She longed to get rid of the guilt that dominated her.
Roger told Iris that God knew all she had done and still loved her. In fact God’s Son, Jesus, took the punishment she deserved on the cross, so that she could be free.
Then Roger told Iris the sweetest words she had ever heard: God would make her a lady. That’s all she had ever wanted — to be called a lady by the One who knew her best.
It was an offer she couldn’t refuse. Iris committed her life to Christ that night, and her guilt vanished because of God’s grace. She was given a fresh start, and she couldn’t wait to help others do the same.
For the past 30 years, Iris has served as a missionary with the North American Mission Board. She married, has a son, and now her entire family travels together telling others about Jesus and how He can take away guilt.
“The world is looking for a way to escape guilt,” she explains.
And Iris knows the Way.
Like Iris, people who find fresh starts with God want to help others find that same grace. If our family members had the opportunity to tell someone about what God has done in our lives, what would each of us say?
* Name has been changed.
AS YOU GO
Use travel time to:
TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN about God’s love for them and your love for them. Remind them Scripture tells us in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. Describe a time when you had to ask for forgiveness. Encourage your children to let nothing stand between them and God’s forgiveness.
BRINGING SCRIPTURE HOME
Scripture memorization is a great way to treasure God’s Word in your heart. Post each week’s verse on your refrigerator. Discuss its meaning at mealtimes. Make it part of who you are.
- Week 1: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Week 2: “‘Come, let us discuss this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.’” Isaiah 1:18
- Week 3: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ” 1 John 1:9
- Week 4: “Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
Family Challenge: Commit to praying as a family three times a week for people in your life who need a fresh start with God. Share the good news about Jesus with those individuals and invite them to your church.
For a daily Bible verse, see lifeway.com/homelifeonline.
Tobin Perry lives in Woodstock, Ga., with his wife, Charissa, and three children.
This article originally appeared in the March, 2011 issue of HomeLife. Subscribe