Finally, an interview on NPR on my drive home really nailed something I have been thinking about for a very long time. The person being interviewed said something to this effect: We are not the products of our environment; we are the products of our expectations.
Bingo. When I was three years of age, my parents decided to split up, and so I grew up without a father. Talk about a fork in the road. Divorce is an atomic bomb, and the children experience the fallout, big time. I went through junior and senior high school basically spinning my wheels. Then I found the Lord to be real, I found myself, and I discovered that God had a wonderful plan for my life and that I didn’t have to live in the past.
I went to college and began teaching Greek there while a student in seminary. When I would go back to the Islands during my semester breaks I would always check up on a buddy of mine with whom I had surfed in Kailua. We went to the same high school, graduated the same year, and came from broken homes. One year while on vacation on Oahu I went to his house to say hello when his mother told me he was “ma-ke.” He had committed suicide by driving his car off the Pali. She told me, “We’re glad you were able to live up to your expectations. I wish my son could have lived up to his.”
Actually, we both lived up to our expectations. That’s why I see it as one of my greatest priorities in life to help underdogs like me achieve their God-given potential. The saying goes: “We’re born, we’re made, and we make ourselves.” Heredity, environment, self-achievement. I would rather put it this way: “We’re born, we’re made, and we’re remade — remade by the power of a loving Savior who can take losers and give them a reason to live.
John Newton was one such loser. He was a ship’s captain of a slave ship. One who ended up fighting to end slavery. His life radically changed when he encountered the living God and wrote these words.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Dave and John’s words echo my own life experience also. And they can like wise be an echo of your own also.