Last time I recounted how Melanie the agnostic was feeling stuck. She wanted to believe in God but simply didn’t.
How could she get her former faith ignited and moving again?
I agreed with Melanie that while you cannot make yourself believe, you can at least put yourself in position to develop faith. That is, read the Scriptures in community, stay in fellowship with Christians, hear the Word of God preached regularly, read books that make a case for faith in Christ.
Seek God with all your heart.
“But what if all that doesn’t work?” Melanie objected forcefully. Her face had turned resolute and our eyes were locked. “I’m doing the best I can. I want to believe in God but I’m just not convinced. Will he punish me for that?”
I looked away. I was aware of the other students listening intently around the table.
“Punish may not be the precise word,” I replied. “But God will respect your choice. He won’t force you into his family, whether in this life or the next. You’ll always be separated from him.”
A solemn moment passed.
Then it was time to go. An hour had flown by. There was no resolution.
* * *
Ten minutes later I bumped into Melanie in the back of the cafeteria. She greeted me with a gentle smile.
I asked if she was okay and she said yes. Then, could I pray for her, hand on the shoulder? Yes again.
I prayed that God would give grace and provide answers to her questions.
She went back to her Christian friends. I can only trust that the Lord will meet her there.
There’s a concept in Christian theology called prevenient grace. It means “preceding” grace or grace that goes before. It’s God’s way of priming the pump, of unlocking the potential for belief.
That’s what Melanie needs. A move of God in her life. That’s not to say further conversation and reading and simply hanging out with Christians aren’t valuable. They certainly are.
But it seems to me her main need is the “prevenient” intervention of God. That’s a prayer request, right there.
Photo courtesy of surasakiStock and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.