Lanette and I have been married for over thirty years. That’s a long time. In fact, we’ve been alive together longer than we’ve been alive without each other. We have been through a lot with each other. There has been a lot of pain, laughter, sorrow and happiness. She has been by my side through some really dark times. My life would not be the same without her. She is truly the greatest gift I have ever received.
So, of course, I am going to just walk away from her. Oh, I will do it over time, not all at once. I’ll begin by not talking to her as often. I will keep things to myself, enjoying life. I will still talk to her in times of crisis, or when I need her, but I will talk to her less and less, then not at all.
It started when I got disillusioned by seeing the marriages of others. Other wives have cheated on, or been rude to their husbands, so how can I possibly believe in Lanette?
Eventually, I will convince myself that I don’t really need to be with Lanette to be married to her. “Sure we’re still together,” I will tell myself, “we’re just not TOGETHER…” I may even be able to convince myself that I never loved her, in fact, she may not have ever existed. It was just a phase, and I left her behind.
The thing is, I can’t do that. I love her too much. She means too much to me. Nor could I walk away from God.
I see people who do. I am Facebook friends with a lot of former youth group students, or people who have gone to my churches over the years. For one reason or another, many of them do not attend church. They have walked away from a relationship with Christ that once meant so much to them. They say they still believe, they may even talk about God, but in the end, they have slowly removed themselves from their relationship with him. Maybe they left because of things they saw happening in other people (maybe even me).
In Luke 15 Jesus told the story of the Prodigal Son. After taking his inheritance early and leaving, he finds himself out of money and hungry:
“That brought him to his senses… He got right up and went home to his father. When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.”
My greatest hope is that my friends and family who have walked away from God will come to their senses. God has been sitting on the front porch of heaven waiting for them to come home. All they have to do is make that first step. He has been waiting, longing for you to come back. He already has the BBQ ready!
Waiting to see old friends… Jerry