A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A NON-RELIGIOUS PERSON
This week she found out she has cancer…again. As soon as she got the official call, she picked up the phone and called and requested that I come and visit with her. When I walked in the door, she said in a weak, troubled and trembling voice, “Oh, Beth…” With both arms, she grabbed me…and held on tight…and we said nothing.
Finally we sat down. She in her rocker, me on her ottoman, sitting face-to-face about three feet away.
I listened. I prayed as I listened. Prayed for the “right” response. Prayed for the “right” words. I asked a few questions because I’ve learned that asking questions buys me time. It buys me time for the Holy Spirit of God to work in me—to soften my heart, to better engage, to prepare my mind, to prepare my words.
As we visited, I tried hard to fight back tears. And I know she did too.
At one point she told me, “Beth, you’re the most religious person I know.” I disagreed with her. I’m not religious at all. I know she intended it to be complimentary, but honestly I have no idea what “being religious” even means. By strict definition, I’m very far from.
Her mind raced. It worried. It grieved. It doubted. It hurt. It went down roads and paths that I tried not to condemn or criticize.
She told me she was ready to die. She said something like, “I just hope I’ve done enough good things in my life that God will accept me.”
I couldn’t let the comment lie there untouched. I responded back to her, “It’s not about what you do, it’s about what you believe.”
I went on to explain to her that the Bible is clear, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). I wasn’t trying to preach. I wasn’t trying to convert her. I wasn’t trying to be pushy or be a Bible-beater. I simply spoke what I knew to be true.
I didn’t have all the answers for her that day. I still don’t. But I think maybe I bridged a gap between her generation and mine. And hopefully I bridged a gap between her and God as well. Just when you think you can’t relate to people of a different generation, you can. We do have at least one thing in common with each other. We were all created by the same great big, loving, forgiving God who cares about the cruddy details of our lives. Maybe that’s the starting point of any conversation…in any circumstance. Maybe?
There are more talks to come. More listening to do. More words to speak. More gaps to bridge.
I just hope I’ve done enough…
Oh wait…it’s not about what I do…it’s about what I believe. And even though I’m a “non-religious person,” I believe that God “is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation” (Psalm 100:5, NLT).