Having lived most of his life as a nonbeliever, Mark Claiborne was facing challenges without any real answers. His marriage was in lousy shape; it seemed like the weight on the world resided on his already heavily burdened shoulders. As he recalled, “I was quintessentially empty; I had no idea why I was here and what my purpose was supposed to be.” Life was moving along, and he was a passenger in a rather nondescript car. He recalled saying, “This is not a way to live,” but he didn’t quite know what to do about it.
It is a fairly common situation for a lot of people, believers or not. The big difference is that for believers, there is a certainty about Jesus being in control. He leads the way, He is in charge, His power never ends. For nonbelievers, it is an entirely different story. The media shows us examples of that every day. Stories of despair, helplessness, sadness, and loss. As Mark shares from his experience, “It’s a lonely road to be feeling like every day is meaningless—like you have nothing to add or say that would make a difference.”
A Moving Testimony
In early 2019, one of Mark’s colleagues was sick with cancer, and most people thought that she was in her last days. He had worked with her for over 10 years, and while he knew her reasonably well, he didn’t know how ill she had been. She finally left for the hospital, and he thought that this would be the last time he’d see her, but against all odds, she came back to work looking and feeling fine. Mark was puzzled, and he told her, “Wow, I can’t believe you are back. It didn’t look like you were going to get any better. What did the doctors do?” She replied: “The doctors? Well, they did their job, but it’s not what has healed me.” Mark remembered being puzzled and asking her, “If it’s not what the doctors have done, what on earth made you better?”
She looked at him straight in the eyes and said, “God healed me.” “What do you mean ‘God’ healed you?” he exclaimed. “You were on the verge of dying!” His friend replied: “The power of Jesus healed me, I’ve prayed and trusted God to bring healing, and He never fails, that is why I am healed.” Mark remembered nodding and just walking away, not understanding what had just happened. But God had planted the seed.
Fast forward to the following April, and Mark was in his car listening to the radio when A New Beginning with Pastor Greg Laurie came on. And as he listened, his heart grew more and more convicted in the power of the Lord, and as it is customary at the end of each broadcast, Pastor Greg invites those who want to have a relationship with Christ to pray and ask Jesus to come in to their lives. Mark pulled off the road and prayed that little prayer, just a few words that would ultimately change his life. It was April 2, 2019.
A Changed Life!
What do they say about those who are born again? They become the most ferocious advocates for sharing the gospel. Mark is no different. From one moment to the next, his life had been transformed into something he could barely recognize. Gone was the despair, gone the loneliness, gone the feeling of helplessness. Mark wasn’t alone; he had an army of God’s followers marching down the boulevards of light with him, loving and supporting him in this new journey.
Mark rebuilt his life with purpose and meaning, changing his circumstances, not accepting what the world had to offer and living his life according to God’s guidance. Immediately, he set about rebuilding his marriage with godly principles—and lo and behold, his wife started to change too, and their relationship began to thrive. In addition, his grown children started to see a change in their father’s life, and those relationships began to mend and transform.
Hearing Mark’s story, I’m reminded of Romans 12:2, where Paul refers to the process of metamorphosis: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The Greek word metamorphoo refers to how a caterpillar enters into the darkness of the cocoon to emerge, eventually, changed almost beyond recognition. This metaphor is only possible because of God’s grace and mercy, and it is safe to say that it applies to what Mark has gone through. He has been redeemed because of Christ’s blood and sacrifice for us. The transformation journey requires some measure of willingness to relinquish control and give ourselves over to a process that we cannot fully understand or predict the outcome of. We know we will be more like Christ, but we cannot predict exactly what this will look like or where it will take us.
I asked Mark if he had a Bible verse that he particularly loved, and it’s no surprise that he chose Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It’s no small feat to trust in the Lord. It sounds good in theory, but when it comes to applying biblical principles to practical applications, many of us take a wait-and-see approach. Mark is doing the exact opposite; he forges ahead, knowing that God is in control.
Mark Claiborne is a changed man. You can easily hear it in his voice when he speaks; there is joy coming out of it, a certain peacefulness exuding from it, and it’s unbelievably uplifting.
When asked what was next for him, he answered quickly: “I trust in the Lord, completely. He knows what will happen to me.” He finishes with this: “I am in the trusting business, simple as that.”
Our lives should be all that simple.
By Yves Le Sieur
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