A Leopard Doesn’t Change its Spots, but God Changes a Heart

4 03 2018

“A leopard doesn’t change its spots and people don’t change the way they are!” I can still Rock _nremember his words as if he said them yesterday, and boy did they sting.

As I’ve told in the past, after giving my life to Christ feelings of conviction came over me that I needed to make things right with numerous individuals that I had wronged in one way or another. Now I wouldn’t have won the Simon Lagree achievement award for dastardly deeds done to others, but shamefully I admit there was a period of time I didn’t consider other people’s feelings and needs as much as my own. To put it bluntly I hurt some folks with my actions, and now there was a great sense of urgency in me that I had to make matters right with all I had done wrong. Some I sent letters to confessing my wrongs, expressing how sorry I was with a hope they could forgive me. Others I was able to track down and tell them face to face my mission with them. It brought great joy to my heart when someone said the words “It’s okay, I forgive you.” There were a few that said little during our encounters, mostly just listened. I can’t even be sure if they forgave me, but at least I got to say what I wanted. A couple of them though I can now refer to as friends once again. Then came the moment I stood on the doorstep of one, as the old saying goes, I knew would be the hardest nut to crack. When he opened the door I could tell by the look on his face he was not happy to see me there. I started by telling I needed to say something but he didn’t want any part of it. “Look, I’ve changed, please just hear me out.” He would have no part of it; that’s when he said those words to me. “A leopard doesn’t change its spots and people don’t change the way they are!” With that he ordered me off his property, never to return and slammed the door. As I walked to my car there was sadness but it was overshadowed by my anger. My mind raced; “The big jerk! I drive all the way to Kentucky to tell him something I felt he needed to hear but because of his unyielding bitterness toward me he won’t even take a minute to listen! Have it your way, you old coot, I don’t need you!” So, end of story. I did all I could do and there was nothing more. Oh really? I ought to know when it comes to God, He won’t let you leave something undone.

I’m not sure the old saying “Time heals all wounds” is indeed accurate, I’ve met numerous like my old friend who cannot forgive or forget, and truthfully I could be counted among them. As much as I told myself it didn’t matter, it was his problem and not mine, that moment would still come back to haunt me. I thought about trying again but had no reason to believe the results would be any different. Maybe a letter, but without ever knowing if he’d read it or not, I didn’t see that as a viable option.  But really, why should I even care? I don’t see where our paths would ever cross again, and after all, I did what God wanted me to. Or did I?

It took some time for me to realize something. I really wasn’t trying to please God as much as I was trying, well to look good to others. After all, I had changed from the person I once was and I think there was this need for everyone to acknowledge it. Who knows, perhaps I wanted them to be in awe and that’s not what God really wants from us. Sure, He wants us to live in harmony with others and make amends when we need to; but even more, He wants us to live our lives in way that glorifies Him; that if there’s anything special about us it not us, but the one we call Lord. That’s why we read Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” and also Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Until I stopped talking about how much I changed and began to tell what God had done for me, then my words, deeds, actions didn’t mean much.

John Piper: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Criss Jami once wrote: “When we look for success, it should be for the sole purpose of boasting sincerely in Christ. There’s no other reason for it. Success is only worth it when the more intense it gets for you, the more you find yourself bragging for His glory rather than your own.”

So, my x-friend was right; a leopard doesn’t change it spots, but God can change a heart. It’s then our job to show the world what “He” has done in us. I doubt if I’ll ever see this disgruntled “Traveler of the Rock Road” again, but there’s still something I can do. I can pray for him. Not a prayer that he someday forgives, that’s back putting the focus on me again. But I can pray for his life, health, family. I can ask God to bless him and send him happiness. Most of all, I can pray that he discovers and accepts the love and healing that comes through Christ. Who knows, maybe when I get to Heaven he’ll be there waiting for me with one of his big bear hugs. That would be awesome! But for whatever happens in the now, I can still pray for him with my new heart. The old coot!!

See ya next time.

 


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One response

8 03 2018
Beverly Crane

Once again I am loving your honesty. You didn’t give up. You tried once more. I think we all have been in that situation. You just have to turn it over to God and that’s what you have done. As always, looking forward to your next blog. Thanks John

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