My jaw fell open. It stayed that way for so long that a colony of flies could have taken up residence. I felt frozen, standing there in front of my canned foods, cradling the phone to my ear.
Another Christian down, two of them. One known only in our circle, the other is well known. No longer Christians. No longer followers of Christ. Two things immediately came to mind:
Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. 1 Timothy 4:1 NLT
A falling away from the church was my first thought. And the second, a picture. A picture of Jesus at the Last Supper, telling His disciples one would betray Him. They all asked, “Is it I, LORD?”
Whenever I am tempted to elevate myself in my self righteousness, yes the temptation does come, I think of this statement based on 1 Corinthians 15:8-10: But for the grace of God, there go I. There go I to the brink, the abyss, the precipice, that place of precarious balance where I find myself when my heart is melting within my chest because of the crushing blows that life sometimes brings upon me. If not for His hand…there go I…to the bottom….
Judge those who leave the faith? No. I’ve walked on what felt like hot sands with no shoes. I’ve been put to the fire; I expect it will be thus for as long as I live. So deal another blow to one who already hasn’t the strength to pick up their head? No.
I couldn’t wait for the morning to come after the devastating news, the loss of more followers of Christ, to sit and talk with Jesus. I needed comfort and wanted to comfort my LORD. I sat with a cup of tea, the Word open upon my lap, tears streaming down my cheeks.
“I’m sorry, LORD. I’m sorry You’ve been wounded yet again by someone turning away from You. I’m sorry for all of the times I have been angry with You when You have only had my best interest at heart. You have always loved me even when I have been angry and faithless and so incredibly bound by selfishness. Forgive me! Forgive these ones who have gone away. Turn them back to You, LORD, and keep me from turning away. I could, You know. But I don’t want to. I don’t know how to live without You and I don’t ever want to know.”
I’m still crying. I feel the loss as if they were my own. And aren’t they? Aren’t we, who have accepted God as Father and Jesus as Savior, brothers and sisters in Christ? Uh, the anguish….
It is in hearing these things that I begin inspection of my own spiritual life. How am I doing? Am I sinning? Am I unrepentant? Am I hurting and unwilling to talk to God about it? Have I quit being vigilant where the Word is concerned? Have I allowed false doctrine to enter in? Am I rejecting Truth in any way?
Listen, this is not an introspection as unto condemnation. Christianity was never supposed to be about condemnation. It’s about a God, a Father, Who gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Christianity’s foundation was and is meant to be love for God is Love.
People forget that He is a Father with laws. Guess what? I’m a mother with laws. I forbid my children to cross the street alone when they were little. Do restrictions make me unloving? No. It is because of my love for my children that they were and are not permitted to do certain things.
People also confuse God with people. He is not a person that He should lie. He is faithful and true. It is not His fault that people commit horrible acts. “Oh, but He could stop them.” Can I prevent my children from using illicit drugs? No. “But God can do anything.” He will not go against the will of man. Will He protect me from the will of some men? Yes, and He has. And I believe we have been spared from things that we will never know about ’til the other side of glory. But will He go against His own Word? His character? No.
All He ever wanted was to be loved. All He ever wanted was a family. In the quiet of the evening, He walked and talked in the garden with Adam and Eve. I believe He looked forward to that fellowship more than they did. I say that because I know my own heart. I know how busy I can become, how easy it is to say, “Later, LORD…Tomorrow, LORD… Not now, LORD.” Then I realize days have passed since I have sat in the quiet and listened. How long has it been since I sat in His presence and breathed? Thanked Him, adored Him, worshiped Him, appreciated Him? How long? See? See how it goes?
We would have God be the villain of all. How soon we forget that we have an adversary who hates mankind simply because we are made in the image of God. He’d have us all for lunch it weren’t for God’s staying hand. Look around, satan is eating more and more of humanity everyday. Why are we surprised? We don’t need God anymore, at least that’s what we told Him. Despite the heavy traffic, we’ve decided to jeopardize our safety and cross the road without Him. What’s so hard to understand, then, as to why there is so much evil in the world when we are rejecting the only One Who was/is truly good?
That is why when news comes of someone leaving the faith, and it comes more frequently than I care to hear, I re-evaluate myself–get myself a spiritual check up. I’d rather get it all done on this side of Heaven than the other side.
So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols of your ancestors… Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors….? Or will it be the gods… in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15 NLT
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT
If you have not chosen Jesus, if you have not chosen life, I sincerely pray that you will. Warning: Living for Christ is not a cakewalk. You will be persecuted. Promise. However, God will never leave you nor forsake you and you’re in good company–no one was persecuted more than Jesus Christ. Life’s hard anyway, you might as well travel with the only One who loves you unconditionally.
If you have chosen Jesus and you’re on that precipice, please let Him hold you. Please. Please do not forsake the One Who has never forsaken you. I know it feels impossible, but it isn’t, because with God all things are possible. No matter what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, you are loved and you are not alone.
Join me today for quiet, personal reflection and prayer for the weary and the lost.