"The Lord said, it isn't too late. You can still return to me with all your heart."
The phone rang just as I started to eat my lunch. It was a woman who was looking to find out if her son could be confirmed. I said "sure, what grade is he in?" She said "He is no longer in school. He is an adult. Do you have the RCIA program at the church?" I said "yes, of course, we start in the fall and he can make the Sacrament at the Easter Vigil." She said "oh no, no, that won't work, He needs to be Confirmed sooner." She was peaking my curiosity, so I asked "why the rush?" She concluded with "he has been asked to be a Godfather and the baptism is in a couple months." I ended the conversation by explaining the process of the Sacraments and how they give us grace throughout our lives. She didn't appear to be interested in what I was saying and said "thank you, but we will have to think of something."
After I hung up the phone, I was pondering the conversation with this woman. I couldn't help to think why this man was never confirmed and why was his mother calling for him? Couldn't he call himself? There was probably many different reasons why. I really wasn't sure, but I desperately wanted to help out. This is not an isolated or rare story. This happens very often and more often than you think. People have drifted away from the church (not just the Catholic Church but happening across all Christian denominations) and many don't realize how far they have drifted. But no matter how far they have drifted, God always finds a way to bring them back. It's quite interesting to hear the stories from people and how they came back to God and the Church. I have heard one woman (at the last church I worked) tell me that when her husband was dying he wanted a priest to give him the Sacrament of the annointing of the sick. She didn't want anything to do with the priest, but her husband insisted. She followed through with her husband's wishes and she was glad she did. After speaking with the priest, and talking with him about her past and how she was mad at God, she came to realize that it wasn't God that she was mad at, but rather her earthly father. She said she went to therapy after that conversation and it changed her life both spiritually and emotionally.
Past emotional wounds can cause a wedge between us and God. We may not realize it in the present moment. But if we go on with our lives without addressing these wounds, we hold onto hurt, unforgiveness and bitterness which causes heartache and pain. Just like that woman, God waited for that opportune moment to reveal himself to her. These moments are divine interventions. They happen everyday, but when our hearts are closed, we can't see them. It's as if we are blinded.
Sometimes, the culture that we live in (here in United States) also blinds us to the truth. It's hard for us to see what is good for us. Our culture is a rushed culture. There are so many things to do in one day, one week, one month that we can't fit most of it in. When it comes to God or church, He tends to take the back seat. If there is softball practice and CCD class, it's usually softball that wins. If this happens over and over again, and the choice is always sports, then the drift becomes larger and deeper. There is nothing wrong with sports, but if we put it first before God, then we are worshiping sports, not Him. What we don't realize, is that the more we give in to the cultures demands, the further and further we get from God. He needs to be first in our lives and when we don't put Him first, our lives become disordered. We get blinded, confused and then we wonder why it's so difficult and painful to get through situations in life, because we have pushed so far away. There are also the trends of the day where Gospel values are looked at as "old fashioned" and "out dated." However, this is fartherest from the truth. The way to live, is through the Gospel. It is what brings us joy and happiness. It's what we are made for. We are made for love, truth and goodness. If we put God first in our lives, we will be amazed at how much time we have for so many things and how much joy He can add to our relationships. It truly can be life changing!
Whether it is the culture, our busy lives, guilt, sin, or anything else that has caused us to drift away, it is important to know that it's never too late to come back to God. He is always there, always waiting patiently for us to come back home to Him. He understands what we go through, and why we do the things we do. He loves us so much that He reaches out to us everyday to show us His love. It could be through a friend, a family member, a co-worker, our pastor, or a situation. These are divine interventions, because He is always strategizing to get our attention. As Catholics, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation that helps us get back to God. We get so much grace in this Sacrament that whatever we confess, God's grace helps us not to committ that sin again. These are tools that help us throughout our lives.
In Conclusion - It's never too late to come back to God. It doesn't matter if it's been ten, twenty, thirty or even 70 years. God is outside of space and time. A thousand years is like a day to Him. He is patiently waiting for you. It also doesn't matter what you have done. Every sin is forgiveable. God is a very, very good Father and always ready to welcome you home. Remember, it's never too late. You are Loved and you are welcomed home.
About the Author: Donna L. Marotto is a Licesensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Faith Formation Coordinator/Youth Minister, Lay Franciscan and mother. If you would like her to do a retreat at your church or organization, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at Youarelovedministry.com