A few months ago I had lunch with a friend who shared about a dark and difficult time in her life. We had not seen each other in a few years and the world of Facebook only shows us the bright shining moments so this was our first real chance to connect. She shared how she had a struggle of faith and lost who she was. She shared that she made mistakes and found herself in a pit that she didn’t know how to escape. As I listened to my friend share about this time the one thing​ that ​she said that struck me to my core was “I had no one. No one who I could talk to, I was a failure to them and there wasn’t anyone who would help me.”
As I heard my friend share these words I was heart broken, angry and guilty. My first inclination was to say I was sorry. Sorry I hadn’t reached out, sorry I hadn’t seen it coming, sorry that she had to go through it all alone. Then I become angry. I am angry at the pattern I am seeing in our Christian circles and how we are treating each other.
James 5: 19-20 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from the wandering will save that person from death and bring forth the forgiveness of many sins.”
If James, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write this text, takes the time to discuss that we will have friends who wander from the faith, why do we ostracize those who struggle? I mean, this clearly lets us know that our faith is a journey. We WILL make mistakes, some bigger than others, some repairable, some maybe not on this side of heaven, but there will be mistakes. Yet, when we watch someone wander from the faith, instead of reaching out to them with everything we have, continuing to be there for them and be the light they may need at that moment, we distance ourselves from them. We are so offended by their sin that we all of the sudden don’t have time for them or their issues. I completely understand that sometimes things are done that break trust and make relationships difficult — trust me​,​I have had my share. I am not even for a minute condoning or suggesting you keep a relationship that is detrimental to your safety or that of your family. But​,​ what kind of believers are we in grace and love if we don’t offer it when it is most needed​?​ Especially to those who are making choices and decisions you know are contrary to their core faith and beliefs.
I remember as a teenager being called into ministry and the amazing encounters with God I had experienced with some of my closest friends. Now 20 years later, not all my friends are running that race with me anymore. What if we decided that we were no longer going to allow our friends to fall behind?​What if we decided that we would keep the communication open, we would meet for coffee or lunch or have a phone call with those we know are struggling with their faith​?​ What if we decided to have the hard conversations even the ones we don’t understand or agree just so our friend doesn’t feel alone and abandoned?​
It may look something like this:​ a young man who struggled with his faith and walked away, but his friend met him for breakfast every Tuesday for two years to keep the communication open. Sometimes they talked on faith, sometimes they talked about the weather, but the relationship remained. After two years this young man wandered back into church service and met a girl. That young man was my husband, Rob. His friend met with him consistently for two years, expecting nothing in return and it lead to me getting to meet my husband.
So who is it? Who is the person that has been racing through your mind as you have read this? Because I know the Holy Spirit has whispered their name to you. Send them a text today, make a call, send a message or email, or go crazy and write them a letter. Whatever it is, build a bridge.