Recently I was explaining to a new friend that my father is an agnostic historian, who specialized in canon law, while my brother is a Catholic, canon lawyer, priest. I got the uncomfortable reaction of, “Well, you converted him, (meaning my dad, I presume) right?” Gee, not yet. But believe me I’ve tried. So has my brother, but even being a priest doesn’t necessarily give him the power to convert souls. He’s more often there to support people when they do finally let God into their hearts.
I have a wide variety of people in my life – and some of them haven’t a clue who God is. They’d really rather not think about Him. The words, “God bless” at the end of a conversation seem to send shivers down their spines. Does that mean I should disown them? Or, better yet, get busy and convert them?
As much as I’d like to believe it is, conversion really isn’t in my power. Love is though. And love is amazingly effective at putting people in the right mood for a conversion experience. Though I live some distance from my dad, we manage to have weekly conversations that ramble through our lives and into our hearts. My dad may say he doesn’t give God much of a chance of existing, but I do. And in his connection to me, he can’t help but be connected to God. I’ve prayed, I’ve offered sacrifices and I’ve come within millimeters of giving up, but I always remember that here, in this unexplored, un-faithful zone, lies the mercy of God. He gets to decide what will happen with my dad on the long road. My job is to love him while I have the chance.
There are so many people who have lost touch with God and thus lost the touch of God. Their hearts have hardened, and they believe that they do not need Him. They can be good without Him. They love and live as deeply as anyone. Someday, they may come to understand that it was God, inside them all along, that made their loves and lives possible. But until then, I can only hope, stay close and keep on loving them. It’s what God has been doing all along.