Lest They Should Walk Away
By Jennifer Slattery
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrew 3:13
She’d left the church, and I felt responsible. However, I alone wasn’t to blame. In truth, the church had failed her, and over time, sin’s deceitfulness wormed its way into her heart, hardening her bit by bit.
The fact that I hadn’t ever considered she might walk away did little to absolve my guilt, because frankly, I didn’t see. I didn’t see the hurt and confusion leading to her departure, the months she felt isolated and alone. The weeks when, out of depression, she pulled away and no one sought her out.
I didn’t see because I hadn’t even taken the time to look, not really. Not deeply. I was too distracted “doing ministry.” Programs, events, and Bible studies occupied my mind and time. When I could’ve provided a strong shoulder to lean on and a persistent tug toward Jesus.
Though I doubt this woman abandoned God entirely, she and her family—her children—lost their faith community. Their childhood is no longer characterized by Sunday school, and her marriage no longer receives Christ-centered support. Worse, she and her husband were new believers, babies in their faith, and needed strong role models to follow.
If only I’d taken the time to see, to walk closely beside her, not only when it was convenient, but when it required effort. Diligence. Persistence.
If only all of us in her faith community had taken the time to encourage her each day, perhaps she would’ve stayed.
In Ancient Palestine, a group of Jewish converts were facing the same danger. New to the faith, some were tempted to return to their old ways—their known religious rituals—forsaking a life characterized by grace with one dominated by works and self-reliance.
The writer of Hebrews urged these Jewish believers not to let that happen. To come alongside the faltering and to encourage them in the faith so that unbelief didn’t take root and drive them away.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess, releasing in the spring/summer of 2019. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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Originally published Saturday, 13 July 2019.