By now you’ve probably heard that Chuck Colson, the beloved founder of Prison Fellowship and a very dear personal friend of mine, is in critical condition and recovering from emergency surgery.
It was just a week ago that Chuck was at a speaking engagement and suddenly fell ill. It turned out he had suffered a intracerebral hemorrhage and was rushed to the hospital.
I hope you’ll join me in asking the Lord to sustain and comfort this great lion of the faith.
In recent days, in addition to praying for Chuck, I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to what he means to me, both personally and professionally. In many ways, he has been an answer to prayer. He’s been a mentor and a counselor, a confidant and a source of wisdom and perspective.
I thank God for him.
I also want to thank Chuck for his willingness to share so openly about his own faults and besetting sins of life. It takes a very humble and broken man to openly admit that it was his own pride and out-of-control ego that led to his downfall and being labeled a disgraced former member of the Nixon administration and convicted felon, at that.
When I first met Chuck, I was in my 30s and serving in a different role within Focus on the Family. Back then, we had very little interaction, but as the Lord began to entrust me with more responsibility, our paths crossed more often. Instead of just listening to him, I was now talking and visiting with him. Over the years, as I’ve shared my heart and even my insecurities, Chuck has given me his ear and a very special relationship has blossomed.
The mark of a great man, in my opinion, is found in his willingness to lift another one up, to set aside his own ego for the sake of that lesser person, to invest his time and energies in someone other than himself. An elder statesman of Chuck’s caliber is not threatened by anyone, especially youth. He’s actually energized by it.
One of the things that I’ve most admired about Chuck Colson is his heart for the lost and his willingness to engage with people who clearly believe differently than he does. At the same time, he’s also a man of solid conviction who will never compromise his principles. He has, in my estimation, so beautifully epitomized Jesus’ counsel regarding cultural engagement, to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
Chuck was recently talking about this philosophy of engagement, and I think he was responding to a remark that suggested Christians should be offended and fight fire with fire when ridiculed or lampooned by “the other side” for their beliefs. I’ll never forget what he said in response:
“If a blind man steps on your foot, would you be mad and hold it against him?”
Chuck has always been deft at putting circumstances in perspective. He is wise. He refuses to play the hype game and declare that the sky is falling and that all hope is lost pending the outcome of a particular election.
He takes the long view of life and rests in the assurance of his Christian faith.
“The greatest friend of truth is time,” he once said, adding that “her greatest enemy is prejudice, and her constant companion humility.”
Get well, Chuck, and we pray that we’ll see you up and running again soon!