Sunday, April 22, 2012

Charles Colson: A Lion of the Faith 

In 1976 I managed a movie theater in the village of Estes Park, Colorado. This allowed me to watch all or part of movies to the point of memorization. I could recite whole sections of Gumball Rally and The Outlaw Josie Wales
In another summer film that year, I also recall most of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman's dialog in  All the Presidents Men.  This was the first time I heard the name Charles Colson. He was briefly referenced for his toughness and allegiance to President Nixon.

When the real life Charles Colson was indicted for crimes during the Watergate era, he was uncomfortable with the direction his defense was taking. It was possible he would escape conviction due to legal maneuvering, so he pled guilty.  Not the expected strategy of a hardened D.C. attorney and political operative. Here was the 'hatchet man' of Nixon's White House,  an evil genius, as one reporter called him.

But Chuck Colson was truly a new man, born again. Colson had fallen from a premier pinnacle of power, working near the Oval Office, traveling on Air Force One and swimming skillfully in the shark-infested waters of Nixon's White House. 
Imagine the comeback Colson made.  Staring at the ceiling in Federal prison he must have struggled with depression and self-loathing.  Disbarred, disgraced and branded a criminal, this former Marine could could have spiralled into despondency and bitterness.

However, his fall from grace was not the end, but the first step to a startling and public redemption. Yes, his powerful career was over, but his calling in Christ was just starting. In a classic comeback story, Colson incredibly recovered and became an international figure of respect and impact. He did not make a comeback to show his critics who he was, but to reveal who Jesus is.  
Few Federal prisoners go on to write thirty books, win million dollar Templeton awards and receive the highest endorsements for their ministries. Charles Colson did.
And here's a little known fact about his release from prison, taken from Cal Thomas' column,

  Remembering Charles Colson

'Colson was released early from prison because of some problems with his son and because former Minnesota Governor Al Quie offered to serve out the rest of his term for him so he could address those problems. 
Apparently Quie found a precedent in an old law that permitted under certain circumstances, an innocent person to take the place of a guilty person and pay the rest of his penalty. Quie never had to go to prison, but his offer of personal sacrifice remind one of that central Christian message: an innocent man lays down his life for a guilty man.'

Perfect. Mainstream media probably missed the spiritual  analogy of  this fact about his release, but you can be sure that Charles Colson never lost sight of that principle.
So, Colson created Prison Fellowship, Operation Angel Tree, Breakpoint Radio and much more.
Now that is a comeback indeed.

As Charles Colson observed:

"My greatest humiliation- being sent to prison was the start of God's greatest use of my life. He chose the one experience I could not glory in to use for His glory."

Well done. 

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