God’s Grace, Transformation, and Hope in the Mess4 min read

He came out of nowhere flashing his car lights behind me and blowing his horn. I stopped my car and stepped out to see what he wanted. This young man in his late 20’s told me he needed to talk with me. I pulled over to the curve out of traffic. The first words he shared with me were, “I messed up.” I wasn’t sure what he had “messed up” so I asked him what he meant.

As he began to share the events within the past 45 minutes, I could smell it. I could smell the scent of alcohol on his breath. This had not been the first time he had come to me during the day in this condition. He wasn’t staggering but he was drifting in his clarity. He began to share with me how he had arrived 10 minutes late to pick up his girlfriend and how upset she was with him. She was livid and began to insult him verbally and in the midst of the verbal barrage, he hit her. He claimed he had never hit her before as tears streamed down his cheeks. That wasn’t the worst of the event: this all happened in front of their children.

This unfortunate drama is still being reconciled.

As I sought to listen to “Julian” and then find a way to minister to him, I could recognize that the kingdom of darkness was working against him and in him. In the past, I had offered to help him get his G.E.D.; to get him into a treatment facility; I even agreed to provide premarital classes when he shared that he wanted to marry his girlfriend. None of those areas he took action on. I’ve had to work intentionally to discard frustration and resentment because he didn’t just jump into the solution I believed would change his life. I realized that our experiences were worlds away and yet I believe that the grace and power of God has an answer to this young man’s life.


I was brought into a relationship with Jesus through baptism as an infant, and yet my transformation has been perpetual. My transformation is ongoing and I faced the question, “How often do we, who have known the love of Jesus a majority of our lives, easily dismiss those whose lives are dirty and have not been transformed?”

If God has placed us here as people who are to bring the kingdom of God into our spheres of influence, what does God need to transform in us? How does the Holy Spirit transform attenders into disciples? In what way do our minds need to be transformed? How do we, who are pushed to stay past one hour in our worship services, inconvenience ourselves by investing time in other people who won’t get fixed in 15 minutes?  What is God’s end game of a transformed life?

As People of Hope, we are thankful to have been chosen by God to be transformed by His grace. As God transforms us, we love what He loves, value what He values, and work where He is working. There is great need for transformation in personal lives, family life, and cultural and community life, and the church is uniquely situated to point to the transforming power of Jesus Christ, the Hope of the World.


The Urban Institute will take place at Bethany Lutheran Church in Detroit, Mich. September 18-20, 2016. Pastors are encouraged to bring ministry leaders and teams. The presenters will concentrate on biblical principles of spiritual formation, the process of transformation, and how we become catalysts of transformation in our spheres of influence. Speakers include: Rev. Dr. Robert Newton, President of the LCMS California-Nevada-Hawaii District; Ms. Alice Thompson, CEO of Black Family Development; Debbie Ellinger, former policewoman and current program director for Gifts for All God’s Children; and Sarah Christian, who will share her testimony. Rev. Bryon Williams, Sr. from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Dallas, Texas, is the guest preacher and devotion leader. The cost is $50/person, but don’t let that be a hindrance, scholarships are available. Register here today!

Photo (c) Prixel Creative/Lightstock

Subscribe to Blog Button

About the Author

Rev. Christopher Bodley is Missionary-at-large in Detroit for A2E for the Michigan District, LCMS and pastor of Bethany, Detroit.

More by This Author