by Christine SK Lai
The Malay Mail Online
24 November 2014
NOVEMBER 24 — My eldest princess announced to the whole wide world that she had dumped God; she termed it as “coming out of the closet,” likening it to the homosexual who boldly declares to everyone (God included) that he is free to do what he wants with his life. So there. Well, it’s not that it was a recent thing anyway. It’s pretty old news as far as I am concerned. Still to go “public” — I guess she must feel good about it. Do I? Honestly? Of course not. Which Christian parent would feel good about his/her precious child “leaving the faith?” But it’s nothing earth-shattering. Children keep breaking their parents’ hearts all the time — that’s the price of love. I dare say every parent, Christian or non-Christian, has shed — and will no doubt continue to shed — buckets of (mostly unseen) tears over their children’s decisions in life. But I think it’s harder for a Christian parent to take, because we know it’s our children who lose out when they give up on Some One as fundamental and essential as God.
Still I am somewhat amused by all the responses to her article. I suspect people, especially Christians, don’t know how to react to me. I gather everyone in the church which she used to attend with me must be having a gala time circulating her article. Ok, maybe I exaggerate. But it was funny how they looked at or talked to me during the initial days of its publication. I think they expect me to be...embarrassed? Ashamed?
Perhaps they were thinking, “Kesian....poor thing, some more she’s a widow.... Hai, children these days...” They get uncomfortable, I can just see it in their eyes, unsure whether/how to bring up the subject with me. Some commiserate. A couple wats-apped me the ‘offending’ article and asked somewhat incongruously “Hey, just saw this... did you know?” Duh, as if I didn’t know. Others simply said, “We will pray for you and for her.” Well, I say thank you to these. I don’t know about my daughter, but I readily admit I need all the prayers I can get.
I have not responded to her article until now, we have not talked about it at all. We did our talking, screaming and shouting years ago when she decided she wanted to live life the way she wanted, instead of the way God wanted. It was a drama, which I am sure neither of us want repeated. Of course we have also kissed and made up after the “volcano” exploded; that’s what love is all about. Disagreement doesn’t mean we can’t love one another. Besides if my God loves her enough to respect her choices, so must I. Like she said if she wants to go to hell, that’s her choice. So be it. Though I am sure it breaks God’s heart that any human being would want to purposely go their own way, because He knows inevitably that leads all the way to a soul’s destruction, when He has shown so clearly another better way.
Someone once pointed out, God doesn’t send people to hell, neither need the devil drag us there; we choose to go there ourselves. Jesus Christ has never and will never force, manipulate or sweet-talk anyone to follow Him. If we are to come to God, we must come willingly, out of love, nothing else. He will have it no other way. And if we do come, it must be on His terms, we must let God be God after all. We ignore, reject, deny or refuse Him at our own peril. Could it be that that’s the underlying problem with all our endless discussions about God? That in our heart of hearts, we actually fear the consequences of believing. After all if there really is a God, it would require us to examine and change ourselves to see if we conform to His holy standards. Whereas if we can just “dismiss” God away, we don’t need to answer to anyone except ourselves for the way we choose to live.
At the end of the day, all these arguments about God are just that — arguments. No one, nothing can prove or disprove the existence of God. Not archaeology, philosophy, psychology, technology or whatever-logy can put a “finger” on God. Not the most brilliant mind, smartest scientist or deepest thinker, certainly not I. If He is, He is. His existence doesn’t depend on man’s belief or unbelief. He doesn't need me or anyone to defend who He is or what He does or doesn't do. Nothing changes His love for us, whom He considers the masterpiece of His creation.
No, I am not embarrassed about my daughter’s declaration of atheism. In fact I am very glad she wrote so publicly about it. When I read the responses to it, I cried. I cried because here in concrete form was God’s answer to a mother’s unceasing prayer that He would send someone, anyone to tell her what I no longer know how to tell her anymore.
He sent not one, so many...I am just amazed that people would take the time and care to explain, exhort, elaborate and elucidate the truth of the Scriptures that answer all the very valid issues she raised in her article. Without fail, every Christian response affirmed and comforted me as the very real manifestation of God’s love expressed by a community of faith that is the distinction of all true Christians. It just goes to prove that my God is not a mere “religious crutch” or a collection of rules and regulations but a living, thriving God who will use every means to connect us back to Him; no matter that we turn away, He doesn’t. His heart is always open, even when ours are closed.
It really doesn’t matter to me if my daughter reads, dissects, accepts or rejects the responses that answered her questions. The fact remains, not only her, but many other people got to read too, because it was in public domain. That’s how great my God is; He doesn’t just answer one person — He answers every person who dares to ask. The only catch is we may not like His answers. I am so humbled and yet so proud to have such a personal Almighty God to acknowledge, love, honour and worship.
If we are honest with ourselves, it really boils down not to a matter of proof, but a matter of will or will not believe. The Christian faith has been assumed and criticised as a blind leap into the dark. I am no expert theologian, but that's not my experience at all. I don't claim to understand God, in fact I confess many times I actually don't understand Him.
But just because we don't get answers that satisfy us cannot mean something is untrue, invalid or non-existent. That's way too simplistic and really a rather convenient excuse of getting rid of that disturbing 'issue' called God. It puts the 'blame' and responsibility on Still it's nothing new. Human beings have always put God on trial. They did that to Jesus 2000 years ago, matter of fact we are still doing it today. Actually they killed Him. We are still trying to 'kill' Him too. But the great news is my God just won't stay dead. He is a resurrected alive God, and He will have the last word, when He puts us all on trial.
God dealt graciously with me 12 years ago, out of His great love and mercy He saved not just a grieving wife but a husband about to die. Now every day of my life I can only mouth inadequate thanks and gratitude that all is well with my soul, for I have tasted and know that the Lord is good even when circumstances are bad. There comes a time when true faith doesn’t remain at the level of “need.” True faith must go beyond to grasp that God isn’t our personal genie to satisfy our every whim and fancy. True faith that stands firm demands that we “know” that we know whom we have believed.
I can't “show” God to any atheist, as much as I want to for my own daughter, whom I love dearly. But one thing I can do — I choose to believe God loves her more than I ever can, so He will never leave nor forsake her, even if she thumbs her fingers at Him. He is ever the Good Shepherd who hounds after even 1 lost sheep to bring it home to Himself. That's His very own guarantee and I know I can hold my God to His eternal unchangeable promises. After all, He did say He is Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows.
That means my children and I are definitely on His “to do” list. I couldn't ask for more.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.