Hey there! Welcome back to my journey! Grab your iced drink or cup of something hot, pick a comfy spot and have a seat!
I’ve been asked lots of times what I would see my ministry to be, or what I want to do or who I want to reach. Let’s talk! Years ago, I picked some life verses, or maybe I should say they picked me.
One of the first was Isaiah 58:12: “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the paths in which to dwell.” Sometime after that, I picked up Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners”. Sometime later, 2 Corinthians 5:20 grabbed my heart: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Do you see a theme here? Rebuild, raise up, repair, restore, bind up the broken hearted. My heart has always been for the ones who have known God and left Him for some reason.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, they stay away out of fear. They are afraid He’s sitting there in judgment, ready to pounce on them if they take a single step His direction. Or they’ve been really, really hurt someplace, and are afraid He will do the same. Or maybe they’ve been hurt by someone in church authority – a pastor, a priest, a Sunday School teacher, or maybe a committee chair. They left their church – and God – over the deal, and refuse to go back to any church because they project one person’s behavior onto an entire denomination or the church at large, or even onto God Himself.
Another reason people leave their faith is because after they are so hurt by whatever happened, they fall into some sort of sin – something to self-medicate the pain, usually – and can even end up addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, or any number of things. That leads to a ton of guilt, and so they self-medicate more, which brings more guilt and fear… vicious circle.
If you are one of those folks who have left God, and don’t think there’s any way back, please let me give you a big hug. Then let me tell you about the God I know! He is full of mercy. I mean, gentle, kind, how-can-I-prove-I-love-you mercy. If you will read the Sacred Scripture, you will see that the ones He was angry with were always either the arrogant religious leaders who thought they were perfect- and everyone else was scum that they needed to control; or the ones who were in active, defiant rebellion to Him. He was never, ever angry with a weak one who needed Him for something, or with one who was sorry for their mistakes or past rebellions.
He forgave the adulterous woman. He forgave Peter after all of his denials. He often told those whom He had just healed, “Your sins are forgiven.” Even in the Old Testament, God forgave King David of the dual sins of adultery and then murder to cover it up. The instant David agreed with God about the situation and said “I am the man,” Nathan the prophet said, “God has put your sin away”. In other words, he spoke words of complete and instant forgiveness.
He’s not up there judging, shining up His lightning bolts, ready to make us suffer forever, or keep us outcast. He literally stretched out His arms to us on the cross of mercy and forgiveness, not to make us feel guilty, but to remove our guilt. Everybody knows John 3:16. But how many know John 3:17? “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
I hear the pain in so many voices; see the fear and guilt in so many eyes. They share their pain, guilt, frustration, fear and hopelessness. But there is a wonderful key to unlock those chains. That key is prayer.
I want you to hear a song. Listen to “When God Ran“ by Phillips, Craig and Dean. Let the words soak into your heart. I know this is a YouTube clip, and there’s probably a commercial first. Just be patient. Listen to the song. Then talk to God. And if you need some human support, as always, find a pastor or priest, or someone you know can help you re-establish your relationship with Him. He’s not angry, He’s not judging you. He loves you!