No More Shattered Pieces

Charlie’s life made as much sense as the static on the tiny television. Separated from his wife and children, burning questions that sprang from conflicting messages about God now intensified with the recent tragedies he'd experienced. Was there any purpose in the seeming randomness and suffering of life? Did God care about him? How could an exacting and spiteful God also be a God of love? Did anyone have answers?

Thinking back on days past, Charlie remembered his mom’s unpredictable temper. Her spiritual outlook was as confusing as her behavior, and she seemed to change churches more often than she changed her shoes. “You just gotta find the one that best fits your schedule and thinks like you do,” she’d say.

His dad’s gentle ways stood in stark contrast to his mother. Sharing his wisdom through well-placed, thought-provoking questions, he challenged Charlie to think and reason, encouraging him to act with intelligence rather than on impulse. His dad was the compass of Charlie’s life, the bedrock of his world. Then the terrible news came—Charlie’s dad had been killed in a car accident. His bedrock had been taken from him.

Shattered Pieces
To cope with the trauma as so many do, Charlie turned to alcohol. He began acting on impulse rather than reason, slowly destroying his life—and Penny’s, whom he’d married when he was only sixteen. Desperate to regain control, he enlisted in the Army hoping to get his life back on track.

But only days into basic training, he knew something was wrong when he was pulled from exercises. Penny’s voice, suffocated by horror, sounded drained over the telephone. Entrusting a normal, healthy, two-year-old to the care of a babysitter, she had returned home to find their child dashed to the floor—left blind, paralyzed and seizing. Doctors said their daughter would be in a vegetative state for the rest of her life, if she survived at all.

Charlie stayed in the service because his family needed the medical benefits, but more trouble waited for him when he returned home. Filled with guilt and grief over the injury of their child, bitter arguments tore Charlie and Penny apart. Finally, Charlie retreated. “You’ll be back,” Penny said with certainty the day he left the family.

“I ain’t ever comin’ back!” he hollered, and spun out of the driveway.

Country roads wound Charlie back to the home of his childhood. He was now alone, twisted, bitter, with no respect for himself or anyone else, smoldering with anger. Rocketing up from his chair Charlie cursed God, determined to be heard and answered. “My whole life I've believed in You. I've never asked why such terrible things are allowed to happen. I don't really care why! All I want to hear is that this suffering is for a reason! You answer me now—I’ll never question You again.”

Charlie heard vehicle doors slam and heavy boots crunch through gravel. Insistent pounding at the door brought him out of his retreat. The house was surrounded. “Charlie Green, you’re under arrest,” the officer said.

Shortly after returning home from the Army, he’d found his brother being beaten nearly to death. Without a thought, Charlie came to his brother’s defense. Now his past with his brother had caught up with him, and the enemies he’d made used the opportunity for payback.

Not one for excuses, he took responsibility for his actions and accepted his prison sentence. Unsure about his relationship with God, he was certain of one thing, jailhouse religion disgusted him. He saw only two groups of inmates interested in religion—those who victimized, using religion to deceive and manipulate, and those who saw themselves as victims, constantly asking why God had allowed life to turn out the way it did. Charlie didn’t want to use anyone; he just wanted to know that God had a purpose.

Battling prison boredom, Charlie sat alone in front of a small television trying to push God to the back of his mind when he came across a program by Amazing Facts. Sharp-witted and down-to-earth, the host, Doug Batchelor, had Charlie’s attention. “Who is this guy and where does he get this information?” Charlie wondered in disbelief. Intrigued, he kept watching and became a regular viewer of Amazing Facts. Mentioning the program at work one day, his co-worker asked, “Have you ever read Doug Batchelor’s book?”

“What book?” Charlie asked. Soon enough, he was immersed in The Richest Caveman. Charlie laughed and cheered along Pastor Doug’s journey to truth and found that his own spiritual hunger was growing as well. Continuing to read, Charlie was surprised when a quiet new inmate, Alan, commented on the book. “How do you like that book?”

Looking up Charlie said, “You know this book? I was told this Sabbath-keeping bunch is some kind of cult but there's no way. What do you think?”

Alan smiled and told Charlie how Christ had changed his life. “I have more Amazing Facts books, if you're interested,” he said. “And every Friday volunteers from the local church come here. Come and see for yourself.”

Taking Alan up on his offer of more reading material, Charlie devoured one after another of the small, easy-to-read books from Amazing Facts. Charlie had felt this truth in his gut for years and learned that Amazing Facts’ secret source of information was, simply, the Holy Bible. “How did my mentors miss all of this?” Charlie wondered, “How did I miss all of this?”

Much to Alan’s surprise, Charlie joined him at the Friday night meeting. Welcoming, knowledgeable, and warm the group prayed and discussed the Amazing Facts Study Guides. Charlie noticed that if an area of question came up the response was always the same, “Let’s see what the Bible has to say about it.” When the service ended, everyone shook hands. Charlie’s life was changed forever.

Everything Changes
These friends became family, and Charlie’s knowledge of the Bible grew by the week as did his peace and confidence in God. Gradually, as Charlie grew to trust in the Lord, Penny grew to once again trust in Charlie. “I prayed you’d find your way,” she said softly.

Charlie wept. “How can someone feel this way for me after all I have done? Has God truly led me through these trials and restored all that I have loved and lost?” he said. Right there, with Penny on the phone, he knelt and surrendered his life to Christ.

Today Charlie is a free man both inside and out. Pushing a hand through his thick, brown hair he smiles at the petite brunette who has come to join him. Charlie and Penny are getting baptized.

Their daughter waits at home to celebrate with her parents. She can’t walk—yet—but with her sight miraculously restored and a mind that is bright and clear she, by faith, looks forward to the day when she will not only walk but leap and dance.
Charlie says, “My Lord suffered so that I might have life. I suffered to know the truth. How can I not appreciate the path He has chosen for me and walk it faithfully?”
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