April 23, 2012
I met Chuck Colson just once. It was several years ago now atFRCs Values Voter Summit, and my charge was to assist the near 80 year old Colson with navigating the venue and getting to and from his vehicle. There were elected officials and plenty of dignitaries and luminaries about, but having read several of his books, I was most looking forward to meeting Colson. In a few private minutes spent with Chuck, I witnessed a man full of Christian charity and grace. This was the scene.
After sitting through nearly an hour worth of tributes from men like Bill Bennett, Robby George, and Tony Perkins, Colson took the stage to receive a vision and leadership award from FRC. He spoke for about thirty minutes, movingly, clearly, sharing his testimony and reminiscing about his family, the call of God on his life, and the challenges facing the Church.
When the event wrapped up, at an hour likely later than Colson was accustomed to, I walked Colson to his waiting car. While we slowly made our way through the hotel, Chuck and his wife Patty, exhausted but full of joy, were interrupted by a man seeking an autograph.
Chuck had signed thousands of autographs. In fact, he had already spent time signing scores of books after his speech. Fielding a fans autograph request wasnt uncommon, even if a bit tedious after the evenings events. Except that this guy wasnt a fan per se. No, he was a history buff, enamored with Watergate.
In his hand wasnt Born Again, or How Now Shall We Live? or The Faith, or any of the other great books Colson had penned over the years. He was holding out a copy of All the Presidents Men by Bernstein and Woodward.
How discordant. How profane.
On a night where Colson was honored for a lifetime of faithfulness to the Gospel, there was a reminder of the mans darkest days. There was Colson at his lowest. On this of all nights Colson could have justifiably responded, At this hour? On this night? Get lost, pal.
As Colsons car stood idling with Patty waiting patiently inside, I contemplated boxing the mans ears. Colson just looked the man in the eyes and gently took the book. He spent a few minutes in conversation, and then signed his name as he had so many times before. Colson bid the man good night and was off.
Standing curbside, I marveled at what had just transpired. Chuck Colson stood at the pinnacle of his career that night. The ministries he led touched thousands the world over. He was the patriarch of a large and loving family. Wise and honorable men loved and admired him publicly. And yet, Charles Colson was humble enough to acknowledge his moral failings. In his weakness, Christ was proven strong.
Chuck stood on the sunny uplands that night, but remembered well theValleyofHumiliation. He did so without guilt, without fear.
Chuck Colsons past had no hold on him. He was born again.