“…for in Him we live and move and have our being…” Acts 17:28
A friend and former colleague died suddenly and violently in April. The first time I met him, years ago, he held the highest position in our organization. He visited us while we were working in the field and we were all a bit nervous about it, as employees are when the big boss shows up. What a surprise to meet a man who during lunch shared with tears in his eyes the personal revival he’d been experiencing in the Lord.
Possibly not coincidentally, though I’ve never thought that until now, our group experienced some real nastiness during the years that followed. Bad relationships went so far south that there were allegations and investigations, removals and bitterness. It affected the career of my brother in Jesus because he sat in the chair where the buck stopped. He was ultimately responsible though he did not know, nor could he have known, what was going down until it did. None of us knew. Nevertheless, this is how it works, as anyone in business or government will tell you. My friend felt betrayed and hurt.
The last time I saw him, some years after our “Pearl Harbor”, he was changed. Gone was the sweet sense of the Lord’s love he’d expressed before. His eyes were sad rather than joyful. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he was disillusioned and maybe even a little bitter. Certainly the revival was over.
Almost without exception, the Christians I’ve known who would be considered “backslidden” (to borrow churchy vernacular) got that way because of disappointment, frequently in themselves. This of course includes me. Been there, done that.
Backsliding is just a catchy term for pulling back or not pressing forward in faith. Isn’t it interesting that before Jesus told Peter he would betray Him on that fateful night, He said these words, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31,32)
I imagine Satan asks for many of us, to sift us, and it ain’t ‘cause he’s interested in strengthening our character. He hates people, always has, and he hates no people more vehemently than Jesus people. So don’t be surprised when he goes to great lengths to arrange circumstances to discourage you into pulling away from the Lord. You might say it’s part of his core mission.
There’s a truly wonderful bit of dialogue in the movie The Bridges of Madison County when the two central characters first meet. Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer looking for old covered bridges, pulls up to the farmhouse of Francesca, and she comes out on the front porch. He calls to her from the driveway, “You know, I get the distinct feeling that I’m lost.” Francesca responds, “Are you supposed to be in Iowa?” “Yeah,” he answers. “Well,” she says, “Then you’re not that lost.”
If you have the distinct feeling that you’re lost, I would ask you, “Are you supposed to be in Jesus? Have you believed Him?” If your answer is yes, then you aren’t that lost.
Don’t worry if things haven’t worked out as you thought they would. Don’t even worry if you haven’t worked out as well as you should have. He knew what He was getting into when He hooked up with the likes of you.
© Melissa Kay Simonds