Reflecting this morning during “coffee with the Lord” on the power of God to transform lives!
Everyone who knew Epfraim Robert Bartel, my grandfather, testified to the fact that he was “a hard man!” Hard on his wife, hard on his sons, hard on his daughter and hard to everyone around him! The stories my dad, Ewalt Bartel, told me are the stuff of legend… won’t go into them, they’re not uplifting and productive.
Then Epfraim, met the Lord, repented (turned from) his sin and placed his life in the Lord’s hands! What a transformation! My pastor as a boy in our little Western Montana town, Leon Mitchell, testified that he had never seen such a transformation in a person’s life. (In the pic I’ve posted he’s the white haired man in the upper right hand corner.) In the place of a hard heart, the Lord gave Epfraim a tender spirit. In the place of resentment and bitterness, affection and sweetness. He began to love his sons and show appreciation for his daughter. The neighbors noticed, the whole community noticed… in fact even the neighborhood cats and dogs even noticed! He became known as the “old guy with the box of Butterfinger candy bars” who gave them to the children of the local church we attended on Sunday morning with a smile – (a practice that Mom’s who had cleaned up their children for Sunday morning worship didn’t exactly appreciate, but tolerated).
Grandpa Bartel is the person that came to mind as I read these verses from Ezekiel 11 this morning about “a new heart”…
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God!” (from Ezekiel 11:19-20 ESV)
Don’t know who might come to your mind when you think of someone who fits the word “hardhearted,” but let me tell you there is hope for them! God’s go a thousand ways to get through to them when you can’t think of one! He can speak to their heart! He can soften it! He can transform them in ways that will leave you in awe, wondering if they’re even the same person! (And the good news? They’re not! … they’re a “new person in Christ Jesus!)
So take heart… keep praying for them… and think about Epfraim Robert Bartel, my grandpa.