Nicky Cruz was full of hatred and bitterness. His parents practiced witchcraft and mentally abused their son as he grew up in Puerto Rico. His mother even called him “Son of Satan.” Sent to live with his brother in New York City at age 15, Nicky soon joined a gang. His violent and cunning ways led to his becoming their warlord.

But then a street preacher entered his life. Responding to the good news, Nicky said he “felt guilty about the things he had done.” He gave his life to Jesus, as did other gang members. Under conviction, they went to the local police station and turned in their weapons including bricks, handguns, and knives. Nicky would go on to attend Bible school and later returned to preach to his former gang—resulting in many asking Jesus to be their Savior.

As seen in Nicky Cruz’s experience, we must be cleansed and prepared before embracing the calling God has for us. The prophet Isaiah experienced this reality in an amazing way. Called to be a prophet by God, Isaiah first received a powerful, life-changing vision of Him and His awe-inspiring presence (Isaiah 6:1). Angels declared “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).

Isaiah dropped to his knees and confessed his sinfulness and unworthiness (Isaiah 6:5). But God used an angel to purify him and his contrite heart so that his “guilt [was] removed, and [his] sins . . . forgiven” (Isaiah 6:7). Now prepared for service, Isaiah embraced God’s call to be His messenger (Isaiah 6:8).

Before we can live out God’s calling for us, we must receive salvation through faith in Jesus. Repentance leads to restoration. Cleansing leads to calling.

Today, draw close to the One who can “cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 9:20-31