By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

For Christians in the cowboy crowd, or those who at least believe in God, one of two things seems to happen when a cowboy hits rock bottom.

The first: he shares publicly with everyone who will listen how bad things are, how bad he feels about it and how much he wants to change. It often includes social media posts and that generate lots of encouragement, especially when he says he wants to get things right with God and is going to make some serious life changes.

The second: he shares with a couple people close to him the struggle and asks for help coming to Jesus as he experiences a deep feeling of repentance and a desire to understand what it really means to be a Christian; a follower of Christ.

The first has good intentions but is likely dealing with guilt or self-pity over whatever circumstances have led to him finding himself at rock bottom which can be any number or combination of these examples or plenty of others that aren’t mentioned here: lost marriage or girl friend, lost job, impending jail time, loss of visitation rights with children.

But when feeling guilty over what has happened is the dominant reason for professing to want to change, it’s far less likely that any lasting change will take place.

The first happens far more often than the second and that’s just how it is supposed to be because scripture tells us that the number of people who make it to Heaven is going to be a small percentage of the population.

I’ve shared with the first person free access to an otherwise paid Christian teaching service with all kinds of videos and lessons, many of them short and simple, to help a person grown and “get right with God” as they have said they want to do. The Cowboys of the Cross website and YouTube channel have more than 300 videos and written devotions and sermons to help and usually when I send that to the first person, he tells us he’s going to take a look at the site but never does.

When rock bottom brings about real repentance, you have the second person and God begins to do a work in him to bring about real change and transformation.

Ephesians 4:20-24 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

In this letter from Paul, he is describing both types of people: the ones whose hearts are not ready for change and the ones who are and have become new ‘selves’ transformed by their faith in Jesus and becoming more like him; more righteous and holy. By that, we understand we aren’t perfect and if we’ve hit rock bottom, we may have a long way to go to ever become like Jesus but like all Christians, day by day we begin to grow and change more into his likeness.

Without a saving faith in Jesus, we can climb back up from the bottom but nothing about our nature is truly changed.

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