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A Change of Direction Results in a Change of Attitude
by Norman Brown
Norman was strong, tough and determined. He was the second of ten boys –- all of them big and strong. He was going be richer than anyone and marry the prettiest girl. But ... he came to the place where he realized that he needed Someone stronger and with more resources than he would ever have. He met Jesus Christ and his life changed.
Norman Brown's Story:
That story describes the first part of my life. I was always in a hurry to get to the next level. Being the second youngest in a family of 10 boys and two girls, I was constantly in competition with my older brothers. Sports were a very important part of our family life and I was determined to be the best. All my spare time was spent playing or practicing.
I determined at an early age that I didn’t want to spend my life in poverty. I had three basic goals that I thought represented success for the future and respect from my family:
Later I realized that to accomplish my goals I’d need to get an education.
Selfish and Lonely
Many of the activities in our rural community revolved around the local church. I had attended church and Sunday school all my life, although I must admit, as I grew older I attended out of habit and not for the spiritual lessons to be learned. So when my mother asked me to go with her to hear a special speaker, I went.
As I settled in to endure another evening of boredom, my attention was captured by the speaker’s attitude and enthusiasm for what he had to share. He quoted a verse from the Bible that I had memorized in Sunday school:
The speaker’s custom was to stand at the exit and talk to people as they left. Each evening I would wait for him to engage someone in conversation so I wouldn’t have to talk to him. Throughout the week I had the feeling that he knew all about me and was addressing my problems but I was too proud to admit that I had problems I couldn’t handle. You see, it was always the other people that had the problems!
The last evening I waited again for him to speak to someone so I could leave unnoticed. He must have been aware of that because at the exact moment that I tried to brush by him, he stepped in front of me and offered to shake my hand. As I took his hand he looked me in the eyes and asked if I had ever begun a personal relationship with God the way he had explained it. I quickly mumbled that I had (an outright lie) and then headed for the dark outdoors.
Pride Stand in the Way
As I went home that evening and thought about the events of the week and what I had heard, I desperately wanted to experience that kind of love, but my pride and personal reputation stood in the way. I couldn’t sleep because of the struggle that was raging in me. Finally, around two in the morning, I got up and looked out my window. It was a bright clear night in February. The stars were out and the moon was full. I looked up at the stars and began talking to God. Basically I said,
Deep, Satisfying Peace
When mother saw me coming downstairs without a wake-up call (a complete departure from my normal habits) she asked why I was up so early. Here was my opportunity to tell the one person who would be overjoyed with this great news. After all, she had prayed for me every day of my life. At that moment something came over me and I thought of the saying: “Actions speak louder than words.” So instead of sharing this great news with her I mumbled something about getting an early start on my chores. What a mistake!
For more than three years I kept “my secret.” I tried to change my life and habits, without much success I might add. Today I know why. The Bible tells us,
Am I perfect? No! Do I still make mistakes? Absolutely! But now, when I become aware of an attitude or action that is hurtful to others or plain selfish, I take it to God and ask Him to help me deal with it - and He never lets me down!
I did marry that beautiful woman that I had dreamed about. After five and a half years of marriage our first child was born - a daughter. I was ecstatic! The second day we were informed that she was very sick and would likely not live. For the next three weeks, she was in intensive care and confined to an incubator.
My joy turned to anger toward God. How could God do something like that to me? In my anger I lashed out at God. What He revealed to me is that my pride in being a self-made man was just that - pride. He was in control. Over a period of time, we discovered that our daughter had cerebral palsy. God has used her to teach me patience, compassion, love and understanding. I can thank God every day for our daughter. She is a special gift from God.
Over the years I have encountered many opportunities to test God’s faithfulness. I studied to become a teacher and after a few years was promoted to school principal. Time after time, I needed to turn to God for wisdom in my decision making. Often God would use the circumstances of a special student to remind me of my dependence upon Him.
If you would like to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you can say this prayer:
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