Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To Save A Life

A year ago my husband and I attended a little country church in the Midwest to support my father's ministry. One blustery fall Sunday we were cleaning up in the kitchen after a potluck dinner when a gentleman peered out the window above the sink and chuckled. The rest of our curious eyes fell on a church sign propped against an exterior wall. Stenciled against a white background in black lettering was the name of our church with an arrow pointing downward... apparently an old road sign that hadn't yet been disposed. The gentleman jokingly said, "We really ought to turn that sign in the opposite direction!" At which we all giggled in agreement.

Though that was a light-hearted interchange, I'm reminded of the awesome responsibility we have as believers and followers of Christ. I remember conveying to my children as they were growing up that they may be the only link to Jesus for some people. Our actions, what we say, and our choices to be inclusive or exclusive have monumental effects on the lives of others.

I know this to be true because it hits too close to home. It was very important to me to raise my children in the church. My son, who suffers with learning disabilities and ADD attended church for 17 years. He was faithful in attending every event:

  • Sunday morning worship
  • Wednesday night Bible study
  • Activities
  • Conventions
  • Summer camps
...and after 17 years he walked away friendless and a promise to never step foot in church again. He is now 20 and has dabbled in destructive activities, has a tobacco addiction, listens to antisocial music, and sees Christians and the church as anything but desirable.

My husband said to me just a day or so ago, "Honey, there's something that simply won't escape me. God will forgive the church kids who have ostracized our son, but what will ever come of Josh?" Tears welled in both of our eyes as we were in the face of a grim reality. Josh is so unique and special, with a heart so big it covers the whole continent of Africa. That goofy guy who smiled and laughed at the mere thought of living... and wept while watching "Save the Children" on t.v. has been swallowed up by a sea of evil both in and outside of church.

Are we going to link up with God by stepping outside of our comfort zones to show others the love of God? Or, are we going to link up with satan by shunning those who don't fit into our neat and tiny boxes we've created? 

A simple random act of kindness like inviting someone to the movies, including an outsider in a group activity, or conveying to another how special they are just might save a life! Folks... there's a mission field in your own back yard!

What will ever come of Josh? There are 2 things I know to be true:
  1. God will NEVER forget Josh and the anguish he has suffered.
  2. God has a very special plan for Josh's life.
What about the rest of us? Let's join forces and link up for Heaven's sake! May the pain and suffering of another not be the result of our choices. God has freely given us His love and He loves us just the way we are... imperfections and all. The least we can do is love others... imperfections and all
  • The autistic adolescent with deficient social skills
  • The senior citizen with troubling dementia
  • The vagabond who makes his way to the church pew
  • The young adult with learning disabilities who has lost his faith in Christians, the church, and God
God loves us all...


Michelle said...

A good message indeed! Best of luck to you and your family, God certainly has plans for that young man.

Pamela said...

My heart aches for you. I believe parents will answer for not teaching kindness to their children. I'm going to put Josh on my prayer list and pray that God will send someone to shelter him. I agree with you --God has a special plan for Josh.

Susan Stilwell said...

Oh Marisa, that is near and dear to my heart. My kids were shunned by the kids in their youth group too, and we eventually decided to let them drop out as long as they went to church.

But you're right - it's not just youth groups, it's everywhere! We as Christians need to see others through the eyes of Christ and invite them in and make them feel welcome! The world is cruel enough - why should the church be even worse??

I will put your Josh on my prayer list, and ask the Lord to bring somebody into his life who will show him the love of Jesus. Pamela & Michelle are right - God has plans for Josh!

Anonymous said...

SO, so beautifully written. Even though that happened within the church walls, the people that Josh sees outside of the church who are Christians, who have shown love to him, are also "the church". Does that make sense? I love you, friend. -- Faith

Marisa and Brittany said...

Thanks to all of you for your kind and thoughtful responses and for your prayers for Josh. I know there are a lot of beautiful people who are a part of the church (all of you are perfect examples:)) In the busyness of life we often don't see the pain and heartache of others... this is why I share Josh's story. As I recently said to a friend, the seeds we plant will reap boutiful harvests. When hearts are enlightened... miracles can happen :)

Hugs and blessings!!


RaD said...

Wow. Awesome message. Have you seen that movie, To Save a Life? It's a great one and if you haven't seen it I suggest you do. Its focus is on much of what you just wrote.

As for your son, may I encourage you to never stop praying for him. He still belongs to God and He will continue to pursue him.

Accidentally Angela said...

My children were all 3, at different times, shunned or ridiculed or pushed out of church. I understand your love, pain and concern. The Lord has reassured me many times that if I will only believe (which is what He tells us in John is the work of every believer, just to believe) that my children will be with Him and me in eternity, and will know His goodness in this earth. I will believe this for your Josh as well. I think our belief is a ladder that reaches to God and carries our hearts and concerns and loved ones to Him. I also know Him as Abba and climb in His lap quite regularly too. :). Love you Marissa! Blessings and prayers for you and your family! Angela

Elizabeth said...

I love the apple pie/ slice analogy. That totally makes sense. And its an easy way for any Christian to better answer questions about why we think we're created from God, and why we believe in God.

Thanks so much!
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