Ruined For Life
Ruined for Life!
I was discussing with my sister and father about Oreo cookies and how I didn't like them anymore as we visited one Sunday. We laughed together at how I was unable to eat them again after my dad for years had brought them home for us in his lunch pail. They reeked horribly of the foundry smells where he worked at which eventually nauseated me to the point that to this day I can not eat Oreo cookies. I then commented to him about how he had ruined me for life for Oreo cookies.
As again I laughed and stated that he had also ruined me for life for Lawn Boy mowers. As he had one for years and when it was time for me to mow I could never get it started. He would come home from work and grumble saying, "I can't believe you couldn't start it, you flooded it on purpose just so you wouldn't have to mow!" Of course it would start right up for him, thus assuring him he was right. As quickly as I stated this walking down the hallway without turning around he said to me "You should be thankful I didn't force you to go to church like my mother did me!" I chuckled and replied, "wow what a profound statement dad."
Later though as I thought of this conversation I realized how truthful and right on the mark he was. (But did he?) I have often said I am thankful that I didn't go to church (or was ever forced to go) in my younger years. I remember saying this to a small group at church and they looked at me real queer like. I suppose I didn't explain myself very well. It seems that so many people that I talk with were made to go to church never really being introduced to the Lord rather having religion thrust upon them. Do as I say not as I do kind of belief system. (Quite frankly I wonder if this is not what my father was taught remember his comment about being forced to go to church.) As opposed to Christianity, which is teaching and showing by example that, one knows Christ personally rather than just knowing about Him.
Later as I pondered these things in my mind I thought about the many stories that my dad had shared with me about His beliefs or should I say reasons for his lack of belief! I remember the day he bitterly told me about his uncle who preached, pushed, and bible thumped people all through his life. How he had gotten so fanatical about his religion that he would pick up his bible on the way to work but forget his lunch. And how this uncle knew better than to preach to his father for he would not take it.
I recall immediately after He had first told me this story he also told about a friend that his dad had. Who he referred to as the truest Christian friend my grandfather had ever met. He was honest and never forcing but lived out his true belief and expressed his relationship with the Lord through his actions. Here in itself is a truth and something so seen but not always acknowledged. Two types of sharing faith one pushing one drawing. The first does just that it pushes people away the other draws. In which I believe that one push can override a dozen draws!
I remember the times my father would complain about my Aunt (my mom's sister) as she would try and express her faith to Him. He would say, "I know where that woman has been and all she's done, she hasn't changed!" Being even more assured of this when her other sister would agree. For neither my father nor her understood or had ever been shown about Jesus' and His complete forgiveness. He also told me about the time he had gone over to My Christian Aunt's house and how she had complained about him drinking a beer. Ah! Big push! I think he felt that she was being hypocritical seeing how she was a recovering alcoholic. I remember when my aunt passed away and after the funeral my dad went on and on about how the Pastor talked about the forgiveness and faith that my aunt had. My father was angered because he knew all the horrible things she had put her family through years before. As he exclaimed, "That women never changed no one can!" He was angry and truly embittered I think He's been pushed to many times!
Last year when I was telling him that I was going to the Stand in the Gap assembly in Washington D.C. He sternly said to me, "Keith don't get to serious about your religion!" He didn't say about your faith or Christianity he said religion. Do you suppose in his mind he was thinking about His uncle the religious man or the true Christian friend his dad spoke of? I actually at first thought about how people seem to think its ok to believe but Oh, don't believe too much! Well I suppose that is the standard today within the ever present and seen casual Christianity. Which I truly believe is so ironic because if you truly believe something shouldn't you live it? Yet here I could certainly begin to see where he was coming from. Too many pushes to few draws!
I can not blame him or even fail to understand how he feels as he like so many has been shown these things. Not being able to distinguish between forced religion and true Christianity. Not knowing what complete forgiveness, grace, or even mercy is about! I myself have even been more like a pusher than a drawer at times! Especially toward family members and when I first became a Christian.
I do pray that I could be allowed to show my father Jesus by example, by allowing him to see forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Rather than just being told about it! To be drawing him ever toward being saved, not ruining him for life! I sincerely believe we should all ask ourselves these questions. Are we being pushers or drawers? Do we show forgiveness or just tell about it? Do people see you as real religious or as a true Christian? Ultimately are we allowing them to see Jesus so that they have the opportunity to be saved in life or are we ruining them for accepting Jesus and eternal life?
Recently someone witnessed to my father while he was at the doctors' office. This person asked my father if he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The way my father explained this he was being drawn at this point. Yet he didn't see it that way, because he hasn't been shown enough drawings to override all the shoving around he's experienced. He was quite appalled and upset about this he didn't think that this person had the right to ask him such a thing.
He then told me what his sister had wisely told him about this. That is something to the affect that there are two things that are private and shouldn't be shared that is ones sex life and their religion! I must agree on both accounts. Especially the latter for what is seen today as religion, yes most definitely it should be kept private. Because it is the sharing (pushing) of this so called religion that prevails over the people who truly share by showing their Christianity and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ!
- K. B. Coates