My sister-in-law told me a story today that I really wanted to share.
When she and her husband got married, they stopped going to church, although they didn't really tell anyone they did. They weren't sure if they were going to be an active religious family or if they were just going to teach their children the "right" way to live.
They both had grown up in the Catholic faith and were married in the Catholic church. They both had attended Catholic school as well.
I have to admit that I didn't know where their faith stood after they got married. It wasn't a subject we had really broached, and I have to confess I should have been praying about it when I wasn't sure where they were at.
But no matter - God hadn't forgotten them.
They have a 1-year-old, and when the family moved to Florida, they realized that doing things the right way wasn't enough and they needed to find God again. They found a local church and planned to go to confession before mass. They missed the confession time and weren't going to take communion, and then during the service the priest said that he had run out of time and would hold another confession afterward.
If that wasn't enough to say that God was watching, the next part was.
When the priest gave his homily, it was on lost sheep. He started out by saying that he had heard a story in the news about a dog in Fairbanks, Alaska. (My sister-in-law and her family had just moved to Florida from a town just outside Fairbanks). The story was about a blind dog that got lost in a snow storm, and although it lasted three days the dog still found his way home.
The priest said that sometimes people also get lost, but God will always help his children find their way home in the storm.
I like the way my sister-in-law put it — "It still makes me a little teary-eyed when I think about it," she said. "That homily was meant for us and God really did guide us back home."
She said she was embarrassed to talk about it before, because she didn't want to tell me that she was questioning God. However, we both think it's something that a lot of people, especially our age, go through.
Sometimes when you're raised with a set of beliefs, you're not sure if they're your own or if they're your parents'. Although it's sad that sometimes we get lost when we step out to find our own way, it's so encouraging to hear a first-hand story that God is right there the entire time. He never leaves us or forsakes us. It's never him that moves away, it's us that sometimes take steps off the path and end up having to find our ways back when we get lost.
I love the fact that the story my sister-in-law heard was about Fairbanks, Alaska. It's obvious that God really was talking right to them, and it gives me goosebumps to think about. God is so big, and we are so small, but he obviously cares about us.
I'm so happy that my in-laws have strengthened faith now and that their daughter is going to be raised in the fear of the Lord. What a great God we have. He never gives up.