I have had many parents and grandparents speak to me of their concerns for their children and grandchildren. This can involve the many challenges everyone faces these days but there is a special sweetness involved when one sheds a tear or two about the wellbeing of another person’s soul. Many are sad and worried about the spiritual lives and well being of their families and friends. Folks who raised their children in church, brought them to Sunday school, sent them to camps and mission trips, taught them to be generous, and the like. The sad reality is that many of our most precious ones, for whatever reason, seem to wander away from the faith. Sure, some leave church but would still profess Christ, most, we figure, reject the whole kit and caboodle of Christianity.
My family is like those families I am one of four kids and as far as I know the only one who is a church-goer and follower of Jesus, even though my parents have demonstrated a clear lifelong faith and ongoing importance of the community of faith in their lives. Even as our family was supported by many kind folks in times of need, some of my siblings would go beyond mere disavowal of the church and into attack mode. It is sad, and I pray for the siblings, but I am not sure they appreciate it.
For all of us who finds ourselves in such situations we can take heart that we are not alone, St. Augustine’s own mother felt just like us, Augie writes “and you put forth your hand from on high and rescued my soul (Ps. 143.7) from this deep darkness, for my mother, your faithful servant, wept for me to you.” He is demonstrating his current belief and trust in the bible by quoting scripture, the prayer book of the scripture, as he writes about the faith of his mother. Surely she was a servant of God in a variety of ways, but among them, and perhaps most lastingly influential of them, was her praying for her son with tears in her eyes. I can picture it, he is a brilliant young man, the sky is the limit for him, he is well trained, well spoken, and a leader of men and instead of being proud and excited the mother is sad because he is like the blind leading the blind taking not just himself but others straight off a cliff. She must have felt worried for him, maybe even guilty as his mother for the pain he was causing himself and others, and so she prays with tears in her eyes that he would come to know Jesus, that Jesus would rescue him from his chosen path.
And we know the prayer is eventually answered and he becomes one of the most powerful and influential Christians of all time. Not that we will agree with him in all ways, but his thinking has been important and helpful to countless people over the years.
I wanted to share this nugget with you as a way of encouragement. I am sure Augustine’s mother had fear for the soul of her boy. I am sure there were times when she felt hopeless and wretched. And yet, here we are today 1600 years later still reading his religious thoughts.
You might have someone in your life you feel like this about, someone you care deeply about and yet you must stand helpless as they self-destruct (whatever you might mean by that). I want to suggest to you that you pray for that person, pray with tears in your eyes, pray with fervency, and if your desires for them are incorrect pray, that God would show even that to you. Pray because it is impossible for us to see where this is all going, but God has a plan, he is acting on his plan, and he can answer prayers beyond our imagining.