I went to a funeral in another city last weekend.
The woman that the preacher eulogized was so different than the woman I first met years ago. She had found a new life in Christ, and she was, as Paul said 1 Corinthians 5:17, "a new creation."
The preacher spoke of a woman who had found a reason to live. She was actively serving in the church, and actively sharing her faith. He shared with those of us at the funeral that he knew this lady had gone on to be with the Lord when she died.
I was so blessed to know that she had finally found peace with God.
When I met this young lady years ago she was living on the streets or in cheap motels or abandoned houses. She was strung out on drugs and doing whatever she could to make money to buy her drugs.
A fellow minister and I saw her walking on the street in the town where we were ministering and we asked her if she was hungry. We took her to a restaurant and fed her and shared our faith in Christ with her.
She told us that she was raised in church, but she had walked away from the way she was raised and got involved in drugs and all that went with it.
We would pray for her and help her out whenever we saw her.
She would call us out of the blue and we would go and get her out of many a bad situation with the men that she was with.
We helped get her into drug rehab programs, invited her to our support groups for addicts, and took her out to stay with her family.
One day I got the word that she was in jail and I went out to see her and to pray with her.
She told me, "When I get out of jail this time, I am going to do right. I am going to get back with my family, get back into church, and get right with God."
I had heard her say that before. But, then I would see her on the streets again, or get a call that she was in jail again.
Then I lost contact with her. I hadn't heard from her in a number of years. I had moved to Shelbyville, and my ministry changed.
Then, last week I got calls from several people saying my old friend had died in her sleep.
I went by to visit with her family and they were broken-hearted at their loss. But, they said she had been doing well and that she had changed.
As I sat at the funeral listening to the preacher, I was so happy that my friend had finally found rest for her troubled soul.
He said she had gotten involved in church. She was happily married. She was stopping on the street and reaching out to others in need. She had come full circle.
Years ago, she was the one on the streets needing help, but then she returned to help others.
She was telling others about her love for Christ and about their need for a Savior.
She was telling others how God had changed her life.
Her life had changed. She had become a "new creation."
The Apostle Paul said, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
My friend passed from this life at peace with God. And I look forward to seeing her again one day in that land of promise.
God can change a person's life and He can change their tomorrows. We just need to keep on praying for that friend of ours, that loved-one of ours, that child of ours.
Keep on praying. Keep on loving. Keep on sharing our faith.
God can change what you may consider a hopeless situation.
Don't give up hope.
Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.