Faith & Reflection
I often have the privilege of meeting with people in times of pain and bewilderment. They have many questions and burdens but the most common concern that I receive from believers relates to loved ones who seem to have abandoned or are in process of departing from the faith. Let me share a few of them (altered and with permission).
Years ago, a couple brokenheartedly told me that their son had joined a satanic cult. They asked, “Can he ever come back to God?”
About the same time the mother of a young lady related that her daughter had obtained an abortion with her knowledge. She inquired, “Will God ever forgive us; will we ever forgive ourselves?”
A close friend pondered her 29-year-old daughter’s relationship with God following her sudden and tragic death. She had believed in Jesus as a child, but showed little interest in later years. The interrogative was, “Is she with God?”
I received an email from a former prof last week saying, “More than a year ago now, our beloved son hit me with the startling news, ‘I don’t really believe in God anymore.’ There has been no change, is there any hope?”
I listen actively and answer honestly, but tough questions have no easy answers. However, I believe that God is simultaneously loving and just. His love compels Him to reach out to help; His justice requires that unrighteousness always be dealt with. But I also believe that when we encounter God through Christ, He makes a lasting impression upon us and with God, there is always cause for hope.
A farmer noticed a strange design in the bark of a tree he’d cut down. It was barely detectable but he could see some letters and a design. As he was sawing it into boards, he found very clearly the letters “J. L.” with an anchor engraved beneath the letters. He learned later that a sailor named John Leland had lived there decades before. Thirty seven rings (37 years of growth) had covered that carving but a keen eye could still see the mark on the tree.
The foregoing does not provide anyone an excuse for bad decisions or decrepit lifestyles; in fact, if someone does not at least try to live a Christian life, then they are in all likelihood not Christian.
On the other hand, the gracious God of the Bible said, “This is the covenant I will make with them…says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds” (Hebrews 10:16).
Have you allowed Him to make His mark on you? If so, may I suggest you not let it get grown over?
— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church