This morning I heard a true story that, I’m pretty sure, changed my life.
It was about an elder and his wife. Some time ago, they experienced the horror of an adult son gone wayward. They’d raised him in the way he should go. Never (ever) would they have anticipated this! — Distressed and ashamed, the elder and his wife discussed his stepping down—and a family relocation—thousands of miles away.
As I listened, I winced. I’ve heard stories like this before: families, reeling and already broken-hearted, doubly and deeply hurt by prideful “church” people bringing public humiliation. It gives me the heebie jeebies: the families shrink away, their misguided youth shoved farther from the very Word that can lead to their salvation.
To my surprise, however, this story was different. I began to hear phrases like, “the church family surrounded us” … “We were shocked and blessed at their love and understanding.”
Jump forward—to the pièce de résistance. It was like I was hearing the Lord’s parable of the prodigal. The elder’s wayward had gone. (But remember, no ultimatums, nobody publicly ruined; just sincere love, and prayer—lots of prayer.)
God’s Spirit eventually convicted this young man, and thankfully he repented. And he came back to church. But, Look, Ma! No stigma. This church family knows full well that each of us needs the Lord’s saving grace. And the pièce de résistance? a dear, elderly lady (whom I love): it was she who “ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
Bless the LORD, O my soul… Who pardons all your iniquities… Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion… on those who fear Him.
Then, later this afternoon, I was writing today’s passage: with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. … Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.
I was reminded again of that elder’s son. His parents had taught him the Gospel; he believed and was made righteous; and his confession carried him from prodigality to salvation. — And no one was disappointed.