Looking back on the past 20 years, there are some things that have surprised me more than others. At the top of that list are the friends who have left the church seeking after other forms of doctrine. During those young adult years, I would not have even considered that this would happen. I understood that there was only one Truth, God’s, through Christ. I assumed they did as well.
Now, with the vast social media resources and reconnecting with friends from before, I am seeing that this was not the case. I see that many have been swayed, tossed and landed in a world that imitates but fails to duplicate the standard which He has set before us. This saddens me to no end.
If only I could go back and realize that talking about the movie we just saw, or the job that a spouse was just offered, or whatever the conversation was, was of no value. It was vanity. What I wish I had known was that our lives here are but a glimmer while eternity lays vast before us waiting for us to arrive. I wish I had known that those moments with my friends could have been better spent opening the Word, speaking truth, and ensuring rather than assuming we were on the same path.
What’s sad now, 20 years later, is that the roots that should have been growing in faith are now firmly and deeply rooted in Satan’s snares. To even bring up the differences is often met with ridicule and hatred. If I had only known then, where our paths would diverge. If only I could go back I would ask, “Hey, what do you think of Paul’s discussion about worshiping by singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord?” (Ephesians 5:19) I might then ask if they had considered the Old Testament prophet Amos and what he had to say about the noise of their songs and the idle song on stringed instruments like the inventions of David.
“Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.” Amos 5:23 (NKJV)
“Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments,
And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David;” Amos 6:5
I might ask if they understood the purpose of praise and if they understood that it isn’t about the worshipper, but the One whom we worship.
If only I could go back, I might say, “So tell me about your baptism.” I might ask what it meant to them, and if they understood that we gave ourselves over to death so that we could rise again renewed in His life. I might ask if they understood what “buried with Him in baptism” truly meant and then inquire if they knew they had been.
“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” (Colossians 3:11-13)
If I had known then, what I know now, I would have said, “I love you my friend, and I can’t wait to get to Heaven with you.” I would have said, “Isn’t it marvelous that He designed His church and planned it out so precisely that wherever we go in the world we can find a body of true believers, if only we seek His will and not our own?” If only I could go back I might say, “Satan is a sneaky one. He is so bent on leading us away from God.” Do you know that I am tempted so often? Do you know that I sometimes give in? Do you know how sorrowful I feel when that happens and that I am so grateful for His mercy to forgive?” “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12, emphasis mine)
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in youall.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
I can’t go back. The past is behind us, a vapor that can’t be grasped. But I can live for Him now, in this moment. I can continue to let His light shine through me without wavering. I can love as He loved, and pray as He prayed. I pray for their eyes to be enlightened by truth, I pray that their hearts will turn back to Him. I pray that my life will be a reflection of His truth. If only they would have eyes to see and ears to hear. If only…
Renee is wife of Michael and grateful mom to Jonathan who she homeschools. She is a member of the Pickerington congregation in Pickerington, OH. She serves as a co-teacher for the 3rd and 4th grade Bible class and she writes a weekly children’s bulletin and activity page that is directly related to the ministers sermon. You can read more about Renee and her family on her personal blog page, This Week @ Great Peace Academywww.greatpeaceacademy.blogspot.com