It was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.
I fought it. Why me, God? I couldn’t deny that still small voice (aka the Holy Spirit) speaking to my heart.
It was a painful heart thing to do. She was one of the dearest people in my life. You know that relational lifeline friend who you can talk for hours with on the phone. That person who could speak wisdom and comfort into my life like no one else.
But things had changed in her life. I watched her drift away from God. I watched the light slowly diminish in her life, and a darkness filled with resentment and bitterness take-over her.
I understood it. She was justified in her resentment. She had endured sexual abuse, rejection and legalism from the church, depression… the list went on. But something changed. The fight to hold on to Christ through the storms had left her. She was letting darkness embrace her, and I hated who she was becoming. I barely recognized who she was and I was angry that my lifeline friend was choosing bitterness over the freedom found in Christ through forgiveness.
God kept nudging me to have the difficult conversation of confronting her rejection of Christ and her bitterness toward the church. “Please God, use someone else. Not me,” I begged. I had been down this road with other friends, and it didn’t go well. I was accused of having a judgmental spirit and being self-righteous. I probably was at the time. I had stepped out in front of God reminding friends of God’s law instead of waiting on the perfect timing of God’s grace. It hurt. It stung. I didn’t want to experience that rejection again.
But this direction from the Holy Spirit was different. It was like my heart was overwhelmed with grief and unbelievably burdened. I just wanted her to radiate God’s goodness again.
So with a broken spirit, I telephoned her and told her that I couldn’t have a relationship with her. No hour-long phone calls, no more watching her spiral into darkness. I had to break away. The sin of bitterness was taking over her life. God had a plan and purpose for her, and I couldn’t be her friend until she embraced the forgiveness of Jesus Christ that heals past scars. I hated everything about that conversation, but I knew I had to act out in obedience to God.
She was angry with me. I hurt her. She rejected my words, and I questioned God’s voice.
Time passed, and the relationship was restored. My friend slowly found the light again and instead of being warped by darkness, she began to heal by that life-changing transformation of God’s mercy. My friend was recognizable again.
She says my phone call sparked her journey back to Christ, back to that life-changing decision to forgive instead of getting bitter. I don’t give myself credit. It was all the grace of God, but he used my obedience for His glory. I was her lifeline back to Him. That’s the beauty of following Christ. He uses obedience to bring about freedom and restores the broken.
My friend went on to use her past hurts and scars to breathe new life and light into other broken, dark vessels. She was able to reach out to women with scars from abuse, addiction, rejection… she’d been there, she knew. Following God’s truth and acting out in obedience has a way of creating ripple effects of life-changing mercy. I am amazed how a simple spark creates a blaze when obedience and grace walk beside each other. It starts with the hard work of obedience, but it transforms into radiant freedom.
Would I do it again? Let God use me in that way? If I call myself a follower of Christ, I would have to. But more importantly, my prayer is that God would bring someone into my life who would speak the hard truth to me if I fail to radiate the light of Christ. A friend who would lovingly call me to God’s obedience…to life-changing freedom! That’s a follower of Christ, and that is a lifeline friend.
Here’s a song that speaks to my heart and shines a little light on that radiant freedom!