Let us call this man "Steve"...
Steve was a man who knew the inside of the prison system. An inmate that knew to survive one must adapt to the circumstances and follow the rules; the prison rules as well as the inmate rules that are always in conflict with one another. After serving his time he was released into society, a man, who was harder in heart, than when he went in.
Life for Steve was not easy when he was released for the stigma of serving time is not readily accepted by "good" people. With this disadvantage he tried his best but nothing ever materialized and struggling, lost whatever hope he had of not returning to crime.
He came upon a ministry that was led by a christian woman with a heart to reach out to a hurting world. She reflected the love of Jesus and met many of Steve's most immediate needs. Through this ministry and her example of love, Steve became aware of a loving God and eventually gave his life to serve Him.
In the following year Steve became a new man, reading the word of God and becoming involved in street ministry. He gave himself over whole heartedly, yet many forgot that he was still a baby in the Lord.
Then his ship crashed into the rocks...
You see, Steve had a brother who did not believe that Jesus was anything more than just a man who died a long time ago. Try as he might, Steve could not convince his brother of the truth that he now saw, yet, he had faith that God would reveal Himself to his brother and that he too would be saved.
His brother died... suddenly...
Steve found it hard to accept the fact that his brother had died not knowing the Lord. Those about him tried to comfort him with scripture... about how much God loved him... that God would do the right thing... but he knew his brother was lost and could not understand why God had let his brother die.
In his hurt, the turmoil of his mind, he could not understand and turned his back on God whom he now believed was not quite so loving as he had thought. He distanced himself from other christians and those same christians let him go...
I was one of those christians that let him go. I was wrong. Whatever reasoning we had to give him his space... we were wrong. Steve went back into the hurting lost world and perhaps became the same... hurting... lost... and all alone.
I am sorry "Steve"...
You were in shock over the loss of your brother... confusion was your companion... you felt betrayed... and alone...
I, we, should have stood by you, not trying to reason things out but simply holding you during the storm. In time the pain would have diminished and you would have been more able to see and to learn and to understand some of the hard lessons to be learned.
If there are any "Steve's / Stephany's" in your church, please remember that they are the hurting people who need comfort. Be there for them for as long as it takes. Shock takes time to recover from and we all don't deal with it in the same way or as well. Just learn to hold them... until the shock wears off... until the healing is done... until their life is back in order... until they meet the Lord in the air...
I know that you have suffered and believe that you are justified in your thinking. But here is a hard lesson that you should have been taught eventually...
Steve was like any other person in the world, treading water in the sea of life. If he stays in the water he would eventually fall beneath the waves and perish forever.
In the distance a ship was seen and it drew nearer to where he was. There was a crew rowing the boat and a man was kneeling at the bow extending his hand to him. He heard the rowers call out to him to take the hand of the man in the bow of the ship. The man at the bow said one thing... "Come".
Steve took hold of that hand and was lifted into the ship. Safe, he began to relax and recover from his ordeal. He began to learn how to row the boat but his muscles were not yet strengthened through use.
It wasn't long before they came upon others in the water. Some swam quickly, others treading water, and most not knowing what fate awaited those who remained in the sea. They would observe some of their fellows drift below the waves never to be seen again. They sorrowed after them but that was the way of life.
Steve saw his brother in the midst of the sea. He began to call out to him to take the hand of the man in the bow. The other rowers were also calling out to his brother, yet his brother refused. He did not want to board the boat... he found no reason too. He refused the voice of the one who said come, then before his eyes, his brother was pulled beneath the waves to be seen no more.
In shock he went to the stern of the boat and began to grieve for his brother. Angry at the man in the bow of the ship he said to him, "Why didn't you grab hold of my brother and yank him into the boat".
The man in the bow said,"Friend, your brother refused to take my hand so that I could save him. He would not listen to the voices of those calling out to him. Nor would he heed your own pleadings. I cannot force a man to go where he does not want to go. It must be his choice... and he refused."
Hurt by this revelation, Steve went to the stern of the boat and sat quietly. He did not take his place to row and he did not call out to those in the water. He watched as others drifted below the waves. Steve went over the side of the boat and began to swim again. In time he too would sink below the waves, yet, the voices from the boat could still be heard, "Come back, help me save my brother, sister, mother, father, son..."
Many are trying to save their loved ones, rowing, calling out, and they too shed tears when someone they know is taken by the waters. Yet they continue on to help reach others as well. You too were helped by them. Please come back into the boat, we need you, and those in the waters need you. Help us reach them.
Author: Joseph Raymond
Website administrator: Joseph A Raymond
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada