Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6 NASB
You wouldn’t believe the story of my lifelong friend’s family if I laid bare all the facts out in front of you as a case in the court of law. How could anyone’s sister be so twisted as to leave their elderly mother in a small town nursing home to wither away, causing the coroner’s report to read “failure to thrive,” all the while, spending her mother’s designated trust fund money for her last days on her own raucous living? Her sister kept it quiet all these years. Sallie never realized the truth until after her mother had recently passed away.
I struggled to comprehend Sallie’s family history even into our forty plus year friendship until the last day of my week long visit with her in her home in a neighboring state.
“Acts 12 has become my favorite chapter lately,” Sallie told me in her familiar confident, dramatic tone. We were in our usual places on her front porch, which faced the mountain range, watching the birds flitting around the multitude of feeders, while sitting in the white plastic lawn chairs early in the morning. I turned to the chapter in my Bible as she scrolled to the passage on her phone. “See,” she said when I got to the part in Peter’s story that spoke to her, “the church prayed…… how does your Bible read? Earnestly? Mine says fervently. That means with great passion they prayed for Peter’s release from prison. That just gets to me how we as a church need to be more passionate in our prayers for missionaries and our own church staff.”
Reading further in the story, I noticed something wholly new in verse eleven: “Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” (Acts 12:11)
“Sallie,” I said, “I just saw this. Peter had to leave his people. His Jewish people. His family. His church/synagogue. His lifestyle to be something new, a Believer in the risen Christ. That was a life change!” Sallie stared a me. “You’re right,” she whispered, suddenly seeing it too. Dianne, that’s what happened to me. I had to leave my crazy family behind to follow Christ. My family is my church family now. My ladies group on Friday nights. The people who come through my door on their way in to worship.” She thought about it. Yes, just as Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26). “Some family are easier to leave behind than others,” she mused.
Peter was rescued. You are too–from errors, evil, and enemies. He wants to give you Himself. Sallie’s family is her church family. She grieves over some of her family members choosing a lifestyle not in line with the truth. She prays for them, keeps a window of her soul open to them in case they want to see her and hear of the Lord’s love for them, but in the dailiness of life, she has moved on. And she’s the better for it.
Tough? You bet it is. Ask Nabeel Qureshi, the young Pakistani-American who chose the truths of the Bible over the errors of the Quran, which led to his parents asking him to leave their devout Muslim home, for good. He has said, “I left Islam because I studied Muhammad’s life. I accepted the Gospel because I studied Jesus’ life.”
Thankfully, not all families are ones to leave behind. There are those wonderful parents who love and obey Jesus and walk the talk of the Christ-filled life. But. If you have those in your family who are keeping you from growing in Him, ask the Lord to strengthen you to choose Him and walk with Him fully.
Now, go out in His joy and be led forth in His peace.