Published 6:00 am Friday, November 12, 2021
The following four emails came at various times throughout my ministry. What each writer expresses is a need to connect with God, to be forgiven and receive a new start.
1. “It has been 15 years since my first abortion. I have been coming to terms with my past, and it scares me. I remember the first one vividly. I remember the date, sights and sounds and smell. The other two, I have no memory at all. I need help with forgiveness, but it is a daily struggle.”
There are emotional, spiritual and even physical consequences for our behavior. No matter how you feel about abortion, for the person experiencing it, there may follow a lifetime of what ifs, grief, guilt, shame and regrets.
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2. “I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face, thankful to Jesus after hours of surfing the net and typing in the words ‘Christian and divorce’ over and over again. I’ve been reading endless opinions (mostly condemnation and hopelessness) feeling that perhaps my best bet would be to drive my car over a bridge rather than face the rest of my life as a divorced Christian woman who left her 20-year marriage. I read about your divorce recovery and God caused a tiny glimmer of hope to rise up in me. I love the Lord with all my heart. When I originally left my husband of 20 years, I was not thinking of divorce, but things have escalated to a point of no return, and the divorce is now final. I can’t go back but emotionally; I can’t go forward either. I am hurting so badly because like many Christians, I never believed this would happen to me. I just need to know that Jesus can take the ashes of my life and restore me. I want to believe that the grace of God can extend to even me. I have always taught others of this grace, but now I question it for myself. Please pray for me.”
Confession is a vital part of our faith. The Bible often refers to our deep need for confession and how it can cleanse our soul. This writer has a deep need to confess and be restored.
3. “I am the 33-year-old kindergarten teacher who stumbled upon your website as I continued my struggle to develop my faith in God and Jesus. I asked you to pray that I would find my way to God and let Jesus into my heart. I told you of my struggles and conflicting thoughts and feelings and asked for help through prayer. Thanks to your website, I received at least a dozen responses. I never expected to have people write and try to help me. The support and advice given to me by complete strangers was nothing short of miraculous. When I sent my prayer request to you, my faith in God and mankind was at an all-time low. Being a kindergarten teacher, when every day I try to instill positive moral values and beliefs in my kids and teach them the importance of being kind and polite to each other — you can imagine the torment my soul was in. I am learning the value of “praying without ceasing,” and I am slowly beginning to develop a relationship with God and Jesus. Thank you.”
Repentance restores our soul. A kindergarten teacher desperately searches for answers for her struggling faith. And people respond. Many shared their own struggles and how God answered in miraculous ways. Sometimes we forget that our testimony seldom comes from our success. More often, our testimony comes from a painful place deep inside of us.
4. “I asked you to pray because I thought I had done things that could not be forgiven. Well, I want to thank every one of you that took the time to pray. I went to church and accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. Guess what? He forgave me. I feel so wonderful now. I went to church not even thinking about getting saved. We were in the middle of praise and worship and I cannot even tell you the song we were singing. It was like the room got quiet and I was sitting there arguing with myself. Then the most wonderful thing happened. I said one last time: ‘He will not forgive me.’ Then I heard a voice that said, ‘Yes I will.’ I never felt so lightheaded in all my life.”
Do your best. Trust God for the rest. We have no idea what this person did or did not do, but we do know that God changed his/her life forever. You may believe that God will never forgive you, but the voice is calling out for you as well, saying simply, “Yes, I will!”
There are consequences for sin.
Confession is a vital part of our faith.
Repentance restores our soul.
Do your best. Trust God for the rest.
Could one or more of these four emails come close to describing your situation? One thing I’ve learned over the past 30+ years of ministry is that life is full of mistakes, sorrows, difficulties, obstacles and disappointments. The last two years during the pandemic added additional stress, tragedy and chaos.
Yet through it all, I discovered story after story of God working miracles, saving lives, touching hearts and mending souls. I’ve seen amazing miracles as God provided badly needed comfort in the midst of tragedy. Like the writer of the fourth email, you may not believe God can ever forgive you, but I pray that you too will hear that comforting voice of God saying to you, “Yes, I will!”
REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@ vaumc.org.