A friend and I spoke at length this morning, about an issue that (as I understand it) was prompted by him happening upon a recent journal entry of mine concerning familial communication, whereupon I contemplated a certain aspect of my marriage. This old far-away friend hearkened unto me for some counsel about a peripherally related situation he has had with his father (and to a lesser degree with the rest of his family), and sought my counsel therefore.
It seems that my friend once held a close and affectionate relationship with his father. In his youth they participated together in such childhood rites of passage as Little League and Boy Scouts – and, even into his young adulthood, were content to waste away a day either hunting, fishing, or just watching a ballgame.
All was well until something came between them… Jesus Christ.
You see, as my friend got out on his own and began making his way in the world, it was not long before he found true love – in the form of the woman who is now his wife, and the mother of his infant son. However, this young lady came from a religious family and was, herself, full of a zeal for Christ – and even as they grew closer, she was being used to open his eyes to the Gospel message.
[As an aside, I cannot help but think on how this story somewhat resembles one of Ichabod Spencer`s personal chronicles, namely: The Harvest Past (or, The Dying Universalist) – except that, instead of abandoning hope, my friend was eventually convicted of his Sin and lead to Saving Faith.]
My friend`s parents subscribe to the culture of polite and irrelevant religion that is so pervasive in this country. Sure, they occasionally attend a local mainstream assembly and even profess a vague and general faith themselves (though not as much anymore) – but it was not a matter that impacted their lives in any discernable way. “A religion is a good thing to have,” my friend`s father once told him, “but it`s nothing to devote your entire life to.”
Before long, my friend`s passion and commitment to the Way of Jesus Christ began to wear upon his family. His mother (and siblings) tolerated his new-found piety with a bemused deference and a genteel inclination towards changing the subject whenever such matters came up for discussion – but it soon became, that which it is currently, a seemingly unmendable controversy between he and his father.
It is such now that it is difficult for my friend to really associate with them, especially now that he has a child. For, they (his extended family) would like to pretend that there is no disharmony between them – that my friend`s concerns are much ado about nothing.
So, as my friend and I spoke about this issue on the morning, I shared with him how his experiences with his family mirror my own – in many ways…
I spoke of how I have slogged on with my parents and loved ones, and how I have tried not to even let their silence on an issue to be used as a device for them to consider it settled.
Granted, I have matured in my approach with them – no longer resorting to the inflammatory rhetoric or emotional appeals of my Christian infancy, but speaking with plain candor and tenderness. Not conceding ideological ground, but not obdurately brow-beating them or belaboring a point for the sake of “winning” a debate.
The point is: I will never give up, I will keep talking with them so long as they will continue to hear me, and I shall persist in doing so until they relent – and either turn their faces from me, or repent and are Saved. I should prove myself to be an unworthy son were I to do otherwise. What would it say to them of my LORD, were I to shun and revile them in my heart?
While I do despise their blasphemy and their evident warrings against His dominion, I remember well enough what it is to be in such a state. Thank GOD for the persistence of His servants, that I was forced to reason away their testimony until reason itself became a chain around my neck:
“…I, like an usurped town, to another due;
labour to admit You, but O, to no end.
Reason, Your viceroy in me, me should defend
but is captived and proves weak or untrue…”
Even as I am rent from them into the adoption of His fold, still they are among those the LORD has put upon me to serve as His witness. Just as I shall not hide my LORD from any seeking soul, neither will I hide Him from those of my blood. As of now, they still receive me and will yet listen to what I have to tell them – and I will not shake the dust of their house from my sandals until they do otherwise.
While I wish I could give this account the happy ending of a family-wide conversion (for both me and my friend) and the epilogue that they all lived happily ever after – but such is rarely the case.
For my friend and I (and for all of His people), the battle must and shall continue until the Lamb returns as the Lion…