God’s Action

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In 1954, Jacques French shot and murdered a police officer in France. He experienced an intense conversion to Christ while awaiting the guillotine. This quote comes from letters he wrote while in prison.

“ ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Let them declare it, who have been redeemed by the Lord.’ It will soon be one year since the Lord called me in his mercy. As for the exact date of my conversion, I can’t put my finger on it. It happened progressively, as I moved from atheism to a very marked, sincere faith, but when I look back I can no longer discern the landmarks along the way. I had been completely indifferent, but one day I realized that I had new eyes, and a view of reality which I had never anticipated was given to me. Before that, the true God was an indifferent tradition as far as I was concerned. Now, he is all that matters. He is at the center of the world, he rises above my being. He invades me totally, and my spirit cannot escape from him. A powerful hand has seized me. Where is it? What has it done to me? I do not know, for his action is not like the action of men, it is unknowable and effective, it constrains me, and I am free. It transforms my being, yet I do not cease to be what I am.

Then comes the struggle—silent, tragic—between what I was and what I have become. For the new creature who has been planted within me calls for a response which I am free to refuse. I have received the principle; I must go on to the consequences….”—Jacques Fesch, Light Over the Scaffold: Prison Letters of Jacques Fesch and Cell 18: Unedited Letters of Jacques Fesch

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