Leaving Adventism plunges many of us into incredible loss. We know that Jesus is better than anything we knew as Adventists, but the changes in our relationships and in how we relate to our world can be profoundly disorienting as we begin to follow Him wherever He leads.
Many of us are the only ones in our families to leave Adventism for Jesus. It comes as a shock to discover that the attitudes we absorbed subliminally as Adventists are being turned toward us: disdain, arrogance, shaming, avoidance, and abandonment. We are startled to realize that some of our loved ones would have been more comfortable if we had become wild and worldly than they are with our embracing Jesus and becoming active members of the body of Christ.
Jesus was right; He came to bring a sword, not peace (Mt. 10:34-36). It is Jesus who sets sons against fathers and daughters against mothers. The reason Jesus is the sword that separates families is that trusting Him and being born again transfers us out of the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom (Col. 1:13). We become new creations, and those who have not trusted Jesus with their sin and for their lives have no frame of reference to understand what has happened to us.
Truly, going into the world and indulging in every sensual desire is more understandable to someone who has not been born again than is leaving everything to follow Jesus. The life of Jesus which makes our spirits live is foreign to us as humans. It is God’s own life, the same life that raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 8:11). This life is incomprehensible to one who has not experienced it.
Sometimes we really do feel as if we have nothing left on this earth. Of course, this feeling is generally not objectively true, but we feel alone and abandoned. Even those who know us best fail to understand us, and it is then we realize that for these times we have Jesus. He has promised never to leave or forsake us, and He has further promised that nothing at all can ever separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39).
Somehow the annual cycle of holidays brings us back to our losses. We long for those who have withdrawn from us—and for those who have died. We idealize what “family” ought to look like and inevitably we realize our own looks nothing like that ideal.
June is the day we celebrate fathers. This remembrance is especially significant because our earthly fathers have derived their role and title from our true Father (Eph. 3:14-15). The men in our lives bear the honor and responsibility of nurturing their children and caring for their wives in the way that Christ cares for the church—in a way that nourishes those wives and children to become more than they could be without that husband and father.
All too real, however, is the fact that many of us do not have living or accessible fathers, and some do not have spiritually living husbands. Life is hard, and we long for someone strong to watch our backs and protect us.
God has not left us without a Father. He tells us in Psalm 68:5-6: “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.”
David knew the feeling of abandonment by those who should have protected him, and he reminds us that God does not leave us vulnerable: “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in” (Ps. 27:10).
God takes us in when our loved ones abandon us, and He gives us family. It often looks nothing as we imagine it should look, but because the Lord Jesus is the Source and Life in this family, it is more “real” than anything genetics can give us.
If you are longing for those who have slipped out of your life or have been unable to appreciate your new life in Jesus, you are not alone. You are not orphaned or widowed, either.
You have been adopted as God’s own child, and you have a new identity and a new family. You are loved with an everlasting love (Ps. 103:17), and no earthly loss can ever diminish the reality of being now and forever in the literal presence of our triune God.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:14-19).
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://blog.lifeassuranceministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ColleenTinker08.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Colleen Tinker, the editor of Proclamation! magazine, and her husband Richard left Adventism in 1998 with their two sons, Roy and Nathanael, who were in grades six and ten. They have co-led the Former Adventist Fellowship Bible study at Trinity Church in Redlands, California, since 1999. Colleen, a graduate of Walla Walla University, is a former high school English teacher and also the former managing editor of Adventist Today magazine. She is also a small-group discussion leader for Trinity Women’s ministries. Colleen became the stepmother of Roy and Nathanael in 1989, and in 2008 she adopted them. Romans 8:15-17 has assumed new depth and significance for her and Richard since she and her sons chose to claim each other legally and permanently. She and Richard share their office with Rocky the sheltie, and they love having a new granddaughter.[/author_info] [/author]