God’s High Ways
“My parents warned me that we’d be sorry someday. Now what?” Nathan posed his crazy question to his live-in girlfriend.
“You’re the man in this house. Surely you can think of something. My parents… well… they never did anything for me. What about yours? Can we live with them?”
“You don’t get it, do you Maryanne? My parents are Christians. We’re living in sin. Of course we can’t live with them. Even if they’d let us we’re three states away from them.”
“What then? When we walk out that door, we don’t have a home. We don’t have friends, either.”
“Since I lost my job I’ve been thinking about getting back in church. What do you think?”
“Let’s not waste time talking!”
Prayerfully preparing his Wednesday evening sermon, Pastor Conley heard three light raps on his office door. His face registered compassion as he asked the young couple standing before him, “How may I help you?” He listened gently to their woeful tale. No job, no food, no money, no…, on and on they explained their dire straights. How many times had he heard similar stories? However, his heart looked beyond the fact that they might be pretenders.
Nathan blushed when he explained their living situation. Embarrassment replaced the insolence he expressed the day he defied his parents, explaining the ‘Nothing Wrong’ theory of living together before marriage. His argument was, ‘Everyone is doing it.’ They reminded him that God hates sin no matter who does it and that their prayers would follow him.
Nathan confessed that he had given his heart to Jesus when he was eight years old. Maryanne listened intently, eyes full of emptiness and longing. Softly she interrupted Nathan, “I have never done that. I would like to know I am going to Heaven.” Joy replaced stress the moment she received Jesus Christ as her own Saviour.
Pastor Conley spoke gently, “Nathan, you know your parents are right. You are living in sin. Now that you are both children of God, you should get married. Maryanne, baptism shows people that you have become a Christian. Will you consider these things?” They consented. “Call your parents and let them know.”
“They’ll be in church service right now,” Nathan responded.
Pastor Conley handed his own cell phone to Nathan, saying, “Text them.” Nathan’s message read, ‘Mom, Dad, got my heart right with God – Maryanne trusted Christ – getting married by jp asap.’
Seven hundred miles separated Nathan from his parents. Their congregation finished singing “I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin…But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able…” Prayer requests were mentioned and as the congregation bowed together to pray for Nathan’s repentance, his mother heard the vibration indicating an incoming text.
Immediately the pastor’s phone rang. “Just one minute, please.” Covering the phone, he smiled radiantly, “It’s your mom, Nathan.”
Tears welled up in his eyes as his voice broke, “Hello, Mom. I’m sorry I sinned against you and Dad.”
“Oh, Nathan, dear Son, just this minute our church family is praying for you. I’ll have Dad interrupt the service to tell them God already answered.” Nathan couldn’t see her face but he heard the delight in her voice.
Pastor Conley introduced the guests during the evening service, explaining all that transpired in his earlier meeting with Nathan and Maryanne. The small congregation welcomed and encouraged them. The pastor approached them after church. “Don’t go to the Justice of the Peace. You can have a ceremony after the message Sunday. That will prove your determination to do right.”
He found housing for each of them for the remainder of the week. Sitting together in the pew on Sunday morning, quiet shuffling in the back announced new arrivals. Nathan glanced around, jumped up in surprise and embraced both of his parents at once. Pastor Conley secretly invited them to the wedding. The church family clapped and cheered at the grand reunion, as tears of forgiveness and rejoicing mingled.
After the wedding, Maryanne changed from the beautiful bridal dress to a baptismal gown, and stepped into the baptistery, publicly showing her faith in Christ.
Two churches thanked God that day for the return of a prodigal son and the salvation of his beautiful bride, fully persuaded that God hears and answers fervent, effectual praying.
James 5:16b KJV The effectual fervant prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
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