July 20, 2015
I am so helped when I read the responses you have for people who are struggling in this life as Christians. Thank you and thank God for your ministry, may He bless you and keep you!
I have returned to the Lord after many years away. It has been about three years that I recommitted my life to Christ.
After my mother died and I separated from my second husband, the Lord began to work in my heart and called me to repent. During my separation I lived with my sister (and her partner) who has been in my life for many years. While I was away my husband began to seek Jesus also after many years living in the world and not even thinking about his conversion as a young man. (My husband and I were drawn back together by the Lord about 3.5 yrs ago.)
We are still not attending a church but we both read the Word almost daily and pray. I would like to find a church but my husband is very skeptical of religious people and people in general. I can see how Jesus is changing him in that way.
With that said, I have always been close to my sister. She took myself and my two daughters in when we needed help. I was able to get on my feet and buy a house of my own. That has been many years ago now.
My sister was a police officer when she felt she needed a career change. She was given a grant from a Baptist church and attended South Western Theological Seminary to get her Masters degree in counseling. This is when she came out as lesbian and introduced our family to her girlfriend who she was with for about 20 years.
They recently split up and she is involved with a very young woman who she had counseled for a few years. My sister says she would marry this woman and would even have a child with her through artificial insemination. It is so crazy because she is in her late 50s.
I have told her about my recommitment to Jesus and that I read the Bible. I think she hates the fact that I am following Christ but she would never show that emotion to me. I just keep thinking over and over as to what to say to her if she brings up the new Supreme Court ruling on marriage or if she decides to get married.
I still have not met the young woman she is seeing but she very much wants me to meet her. All this is snowballing in my head and I just pray for her and ask Jesus to help me; I guess you could say I am beside myself. I am scared I won’t honor the Lord because I am concerned that she will think I am against her. At the same time I want to do what the Holy Spirit wants me to say and do.
Another issue I have is with my other sister. Last July her youngest son, 21 years old, shot himself in the head and my sister found him. This has been the worst thing ever to happen to her, obviously. I pray for her all the time. She is now seeing a “spiritual advisor” and I feel her anger when I mention the Lord.
I just am so worried that I might say the wrong thing. She is devastated. I mostly just listen and support her but I am avoiding her. Should I stay away from family and just be with the people God places in my life or should I engage with my family? I feel like we have all become estranged in a way.
I remember when I was saved at 19, I said to my dad, “God is going to bring this family to its knees.” I think it made him a little nervous and he said he hoped not. (Sorry this is so long of a letter.) I have started to write you before but stopped because I didn’t know how to make this short.
Thank you Esther!
Love in Jesus our Lord,
Thank you for your kind sentiments about this ministry. It is because of special people like yourself who contribute letters, and all our readers, that we are able to encourage one another. To God be the glory and praise for His amazing grace and guidance.
First, it is wonderful that you recommitted your life to the Lord and that you and your husband have reconciled; and are sharing the Word of God together and praying. When Christ is truly the center of a marriage it can only get better. I can understand his skepticism about people. Far too many people are not trustworthy despite their religious or spiritual jargon.
Keep in mind we are living in the time of 2 Timothy 3:2-4, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
Your husband is wise to be very cautious considering the disturbing behavior of some people who profess Christ but will stab you in the back in a heartbeat in order to further their own agendas. Control issues and selfish motives are huge in some ministries, and some smiling-faced “Christians” will spread slanderous lies and do their utmost to hurt others to get their own way. (Wolves in sheep’s clothing.)
But God is not mocked and He sees everything. He knows the true intent of all hearts and in time those same delusional people who profess Christ but work to hurt others will reap what they sow. Let’s pray that in time some authentic believers will become a part of your lives. It is sad but true that many ministries/churches are filled with people who cannot be trusted, so have patience with your husband.
Perhaps if you could get together with even one other Christian couple and have some good fellowship, that would be one way to start trusting. But what is really important is your personal relationship with the Lord and your husband’s personal relationship with the Lord. When we place Christ first in our lives, everything else comes together.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:23).
And placing Christ first in our lives does not mean in thought or word only, but in real life behavior where we live authentically for Him and not for selfish gain. You’ve heard the story about the person who goes to church every Sunday, sings Halleluiah and says “Amen” to everything the pastor says. But on Monday morning he or she is as vicious as a pushy street thug running over anything and everything that is a perceived threat to that person’s self-serving controlling agenda.
Now regarding your two sisters, you certainly do have some challenges. But you know, Heather, all things are possible with Christ even when situations seem impossible (Luke 1:37). It is obvious you love your sisters and do not wish to hurt them in any way, and that you are appreciative of their kindness and generosity toward you and your children.
I can understand your feelings of fear and your wish not to offend your sisters. It really isn’t all that long since you have come back to the Lord. It might take some more time for you to be a bit stronger, and more grounded in your ability to communicate your love for Christ to your cherished family members without feeling like you are crushing on their reality.
Your dilemma not to hurt your sisters and not to compromise your commitment to the Lord is something that will work itself out in time. Avoiding some people sometimes is not a bad idea. But it is only a band aid, a temporary way of dealing with issues unless you decide not to deal with them at all and simply keep your distance for a very prolonged length of time.
Even if you avoid your sisters, and because you are
a caring and compassionate person, you will still carry your feelings of discomfort within unless you go directly to the Lord and ask Him to take away the emotional pain. Ask Him to strengthen you so when you are placed in a situation with your sisters or anyone else, and your faith is tested, you will not compromise.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20).
Ask the Lord to lift the burden of dealing with your sisters. It does not sound like you want to sever the relationships so we need to find a way for you to be able to interact with your sisters without you feeling like you are carrying a heavy ball and chain around with you. But depending on how they respond to you, you may have no choice but to distance yourself. We are always shaping and forming our thoughts. Just as we chose to walk with Christ we can choose what thoughts we will use. Choose a life-giving thought life and realize all the thoughts of fear and doubt do nothing but cause pain and immobilize us.
In the book of James (v. 1:6) we are reminded that worry is a form of doubt and that when we pray we must believe and not doubt in order for our prayers to be effective. We are conditioned every day of our lives to have doubt and fear. Fear and intimidation is the mantra of the left who rule the demonically inspired mainstream media in this country. The devil wants us to be terrified to the point of being useless to God.
Remember, fear is not of the Lord and it is through Him that we can overcome any doubts and fears that keep us from being productive and strong, and handle challenges that we face each day. Regarding your sister who lost her son, I think you are already doing what you can. Listening to her and just being there for her when she needs to unload her feelings is a caring thing to do.
However, feeling her anger toward you when you mention the Lord is symptomatic of her own lost state, and seeking the advice of a so-called spiritual advisor is a bad way for her to deal with her loss (you already know that). Now this is where your God-given strength must come through: If she continues to direct anger toward you because of your love and commitment for the Lord, you may have to distance yourself for a time.
Sometimes no matter what we say, some people will shut us out because we are committed to the Lord and they have hardened their hearts to His truth. You must not feel responsible for your sister, for her feelings and her reactions. (And that goes for both sisters.) You have done nothing wrong. Yes, what she is dealing with, the loss of her son, is terrible. But you have tried to help and comfort her. You have shared the Lord with her, but she will not receive the truth.
If she continues to direct anger toward you then you must step aside. You can do it in a loving way by telling her that you will always be there for her but you cannot accept her anger because it is unfair of her to be upset with you because of your love and devotion to Christ. Respect is a two-way street. Your ongoing prayers are the best thing you can do for her. Hopefully, in time, she will realize that you are trying to help her and she will stop acting so angry.
Sometimes we have to love people from a distance and surrender the entire situation to the Lord. Give your sister some time, her loss is very difficult. Once in a while you could send her a loving greeting card or text her and say something like, “Thinking of you with much love. Please let me know if I can do anything, I am here for you.”
That way you are reaching out to her, but it is up to her to respond and receive your kind sentiments. The loss of her son is huge but that does not mean she can direct her anger at you and place you in a compromising position.
Now concerning your other sister, the situation is not any easier. She obviously has chosen a lifestyle that is far outside of godly biblical principles and your own comfort zone. And once again, you must not allow yourself to be made to feel like what she is doing is something you must condone and accept. It sounds like your sister was involved with a very liberal church and seminary void of straightforward biblical truths.
I am concerned for you that it will come to a point where you will have to come right out and tell your sister that you love her very much, and will always appreciate what she did for you and your children when you needed help, but because you love her you cannot pretend that the lifestyle she has chosen is something you can condone.
Heather, your faith and commitment to Christ will have to override any pressure to keep “peace” between the two of you if she gets upset and angry. It would be inauthentic for you to pretend to go along with her chosen lifestyle. Of course, none of us like to be placed in such an awkward, uncomfortable position.
But sometimes we must face a time in our lives where we must choose to go on a road that will keep us walking in obedience to the Lord or walk on the road of compromise, which will inevitably create spiritual discomfort and cause separation from Christ. We should do our best not to grieve the Holy Spirit, and I know you are aware of that.
When we are serious about our commitment to the Lord, life does not necessarily become easier when dealing with family and friends (or the world in general). Life most often becomes more difficult because of our faith in Christ.
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 timothy 3:12).
You are facing a fork in the road, Heather. You can either choose to go on the high road where you will continue to grow in your walk with the Lord or you can choose to try to please your sisters and place God on the sidelines.
I know that may sound harsh but you can’t really have it both ways. You already fell away from the Lord for a time in your life and He graciously drew you back to Him, along with your husband. I would not encourage you to place yourself into a compromising situation because of the inevitable hurt, disappointment and/or anger your sisters will feel once they realize you are a new person in Christ and cannot sit on the fence (2 Corinthians 5:17).
You could be the very catalyst that may eventually cause your sisters to repent and come to faith in Christ. At the moment that may seem impossible but never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit. You are doing this sister no favor by possibly agreeing to meet her new girlfriend. What would you do and say? Please re-read Romans 1:26-27; 1 Timothy 9-10; Mark 10:6-9).
Heather, please get into your prayer closet with the Lord and ask Him to give you courage to deal with your sister and to give you the words you will need when you do tell her that you love her but cannot go along with her lifestyle. (You realize if she does not repent her eternal future is frightening.) She is wanting you to meet the new girlfriend but think carefully before you even take that step. You must not feel obligated to approve of something because your sister has done some nice things for you.
I wish I could make all of this easier for you. You have my love in Christ, moral support, compassion, my prayers and best wishes. I have confidence in you, Heather, that you will be able to deal with both sisters, and move forward with your walk with the Lord without compromising your commitment to Him.
When it is all said and done, only what we do for the Lord matters. One day soon, we will all face Him. Think about that; how you wish to be when you are face-to-face with the Lord. The troubles with your family will not be pressing in on you then, and you won’t be thinking about how your sisters feel toward you. You will be wishing you had done anything and everything to please Him. He deserves our full-allegiance.
It is easy for all of us to get caught-up in our day-to-day lives and have a sort of quasi-mental amnesia about our true home. But this is not our true home as the Scripture teaches. We must remember that each day of our lives so we are not pulled to and fro into frustrating situations ruled by the flesh, giving this life much more importance than we should.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
God bless you, Heather, for your caring heart. It is not easy to be a believer in this fallen world and it seems to be getting harder each day. The social pressures scream, “Tolerance at all cost.” (As long as it is not tolerance for the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, the Savior and Messiah of this world.)
How surprising and shocking it will be for the unrepentant, for those who chastise and mock us, when they bow their knees and confess Jesus Christ is Lord. But tragically it will be too late for them. They will be ushered into the lake of fire for eternity.
“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:11-12).
And remember Heather, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). I would love to hear how you are doing in the future. Stay close to Jesus, stay in the Word and you will be able to handle your sisters, and your own feelings of fear.
“For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
In God’s love,
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I (press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).