THE more time I spend with different groups of Christians, the more I recognize the one prayer request that always makes an appearance – one for a family member to come to know Jesus. I’m unsure why it is such a rarity to find a family with all its members on fire for Jesus. I have seen families who have all members living for Christ, so I know this isn’t impossible. It just so happens that those families are very rare.
I’m not sure when exactly I began pondering this idea, but I wanted to know why it was so prevalent. I wanted to ask God why it was, that only some parts of the family got to know Him, and the others were uninterested or grossly disgusted by the idea of Him.
I have always thought there was a certain beauty in flaws and imperfection. Ergo, I tried to find that in a family that had some members who knew Jesus, but I failed to see the beauty in it. Sometimes, I ponder ideas such as this and let them go, however this was not one of those situations. Unable to let the idea go, I carried my concerns bl3oo1 to God.
As the humorist that He is, I didn’t get a full page of an expertly written answer with various explanations to my questions. Rather, I got bits I had to think about and piece together to finally arrive at somewhat of an answer. One of these bits was the fact that God isn’t going to force anyone to love him. That would go against His very nature, and against the liberty we have in free will. However, my perception of families of this nature was drastically changed when God presented an “aha!” moment.
For the past two months, I have spent one day, each week, discussing Christianity with people of various beliefs. Some of these people were Christians before, some newly Christian and others just there because someone had invited them out. In my group, there was a Muslim woman who was no longer married, but had adult children. Each week we would discuss a topic, being as candid as possible about things that were relatable, as well as things that were discordant with what we believed to be true.
This Muslim lady had mentioned feeling like she no longer could relate to her religion and wanted to explore this “Jesus person”. She said she loved him, but didn’t know him. Whenever we discussed some topic, she would always relate it back to herself, as an individual. She talked about her family (read: her daughters and son-in-law) when asked about her background and where she came from, and from what she mentioned they had a great relationship. Her family never came up out of that context. They were always in her background and never a part of this journey to find Jesus she was on.
That was, until she made a change to give her life to Christ. Then everything we discussed related back to her family. She shared about how certain things she had heard from the Bible on a specific day reminded her of one of her daughters. Another of her son-in-law. She wanted to tell her family what a difference Jesus’ love had made in her, she said. She also wanted to share with her daughters a burden she felt had been lifted since she said the salvation prayer. Increasingly, her family became a part of the discussions we had- not just a part of her background story- but a part of her right-now-story.
This Muslim woman had endured some tragedies in her life, part of this fuelled her desire for change. We don’t all have families who have been through the kind of ordeal the Muslim woman and her family have had to deal with. Conversely, some of us have had to deal with worse things. However, watching the transformation of her narrative gave me a little more of an understanding as to why entire families are not always saved.
I realized we are chosen as disciples in our various families to bring the other people to God. It’s a great responsibility, but we aren’t doing it alone, thankfully. Since I came to terms with this idea, every time I think about it now, it reminds me of this verse:
“…Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
I used to think this meant everybody was getting saved. At once. Like magic. But I soon realized it was not going to happen by the swaying of a wand, rather by the perseverance of the people who are saved. The you’s and me’s and us’s.
It’s a hard task. Sometimes you want to give up praying because you have been doing it for longer than you can count and it hasn’t made a difference. Other times we don’t see a difference in their day-to-day lives, but something is happening in their spiritual lives. We have to try not to be disappointed when certain prayers don’t manifest immediately. If we pray remembering that we’re not praying for victory, but rather praying from a place of victory, it’s a little easier to continue to fight for our families.
You are the disciple for your family. If you stop praying now, who is going to guide them to Jesus? At least when you’re tired, you have an endless source of strength you can rely on to keep you going. And God will keep you going for them.
It doesn’t happen overnight, sometimes it doesn’t happen until someone is on his or her deathbed. Our task isn’t to worry about the when or why’s, really – it’s simply to continue to pray. We have to continue to, regardless of what we may feel. We have to be the disciples we were called to be when we decided to follow Jesus. We have to believe that our prayers for our families to know God are going to yield fruit, because God has promised that to us. And God doesn’t lie.
¹Bl3oo – carefully
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