What do you say when someone whom you thought had a heart for Christ says, “I’m an atheist”? What do you do when you can actually feel your heart breaking?
Kate is a very good friend. We bonded over hockey in 1999 and have been fast pals since.
We were very much alike until she forged a friendship with a co-worker. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I have no issues with my friends expanding their "friend" quota. However, this new friend was the antithesis of all in which Kate believed. Over time, her new friend was able to transform Kate's belief system. The change was tangible, from conservative Christian to liberal Atheist.
Kate knew I had been attending a new church; and thoroughly enjoying what I was hearing and seeing. She knew I was recommitting myself to Christ by being re-baptized. To commemorate the occasion, she purchased a lovely Bible charm for my bracelet. I was surprised because I had been exposed to her angst with God.
The same day she gave me the charm, we went to dinner. During the meal, she said, “You can talk to me about church you know. Just because I have atheistic leanings now, doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear about what you are doing.” Silence. What could I say? What did I want to say?
“Kate, my heart is breaking for you. What a sad existence you’ve chosen with this path. I’ll certainly pray that your eyes and heart will be opened and you will receive the joy and love that only Christ can bring.”
But I didn’t say those words to her. Instead, I sat silent, allowing conversation to continue. I would like to think my lack of comment was disbelief rather than the ache of confirmation. This was the first time she had given voice to what I had already come to know.
With Kate's revelation weighing heavily on my spirit, I had a “God Moment”. A moment when God loving smacks me upside the head. I’ve always told Him that I do not get subtle. And to His credit, He is not. Then again, He is God.
My church is in the midst of an amazing sermon series entitled, “God Did What?” The second sermon was “God Ran.” One of the main points of the message was that God waits for those who leave and runs to those who return. Can you imagine God running towards you, face aglow, arms open? His willingness to embrace and love you regardless?
I had no idea what the content of the sermon would be, but there was Pastor Drew, speaking God’s words directly to me. A salve for an aching heart. I kept Kate there, in my heart, the entire time. At the end of the sermon, Pastor Drew asked us to put someone we knew was lost or had left Christ on our hearts. He invited us to come forward and he prayed.
I cried for Kate. I prayed for Kate. During the prayer, I became strongly convicted that I need to invite her to the Saturday service for Easter. Shortly after Pastor Drew ended the prayer, he told us to invite that lost person to service on Easter. Ok God, I get it.
I’m not sure what I need to do for Kate after asking her to church. Part of me wants to walk away. Yet, the other part knows I need to love her like God loves us. He never strays from our side. I know I have a part to play in her life. So, I pray.
And in praying, I know God eagerly and patiently waits for her to return.