DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I’m scared of getting older, because I divorced my wife many years ago and I’m not on good terms with my children, and all I can see in front of me is loneliness and hopelessness. I wish I could go back and change the decisions I made, but it’s too late. Maybe someone can learn from my mistakes. — L.K.
DEAR L.K.: It’s a hard lesson to learn (and some people never do learn it, I’m afraid), but you can’t change the past. What’s done (either for good or for bad) can never be erased, and the consequences will remain with us the rest of our lives. Perhaps your letter will help someone avoid going down the path you once chose.
But you can change the future, with God’s help. And He wants to help you, because He loves you and cares what happens to you. So far in life, you haven’t paid much attention to Him, but why should that be true in the future? Instead, put your feet on a new path by asking Christ to come into your life, to forgive the past and help you in the future.
How will God help you? I can’t promise you’ll be able to overcome all the hurts your children feel. But you can reach out to them, telling them (perhaps in a letter) that you’re sorry for what happened, and you have now given your life to Jesus.
In addition, Christ will give you hope as you grow older. You’ll know He is always with you, and most of all you’ll know that someday you will go to be with Him in heaven. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection we have “the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2).
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: By the time you get this, I’ll be back in school. But I’m kind of scared this time, because I recently gave my life to Jesus at a high school church camp. I want to live for Jesus, but I’m afraid I’ll just go back to my old ways. How can I stay true to Jesus? — A. McL.
DEAR A. McL: I’m very thankful you have given your life to Christ; it’s the most important decision you will ever make. I’m thankful, too, that you’ve made your decision while you’re young. The older we get, the harder it usually becomes to hear God’s call.
The most important thing you can do is to learn to walk with Jesus every moment of the day. You are not alone as you walk the halls of your school, sit in class, or talk with your friends. Christ is with you every step of the way, and He wants to encourage and help you. Jesus’ promise is true: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
How can His presence become a reality? First, draw strength from other believers. You mention you made your decision for Christ at a church camp; has that church (or another church) become part of your life? Ask God especially to give you new friends who love Christ and are seeking to live for Him.
Then draw strength from God’s Word, the Bible, and from prayer. Through the Bible we listen to what God wants to say to us; through prayer God listens to what we want to say to Him. Don’t be intimidated by the Bible’s size, but make it part of your life every day (beginning perhaps with one of the Gospels, such as John).
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I feel like God has abandoned me. I’ve had three close relatives die in the last few months, and now I just got word that my aunt (who’s been almost like a second mother to me) has inoperable cancer. Why is God doing this to me? — Mrs. C.G.
DEAR MRS. C.G.: In all honesty, when things like this touch our lives we seldom know why God has allowed them to happen. But God has not abandoned you. In the midst of all that’s happening to you, God wants you to discover one of life’s greatest truths: He loves you and wants to help you and give you hope for the future. And He will, as you turn to Christ in faith and trust, and make Him (instead of your circumstances) the foundation of your life. Circumstances change... emotions change... but God never changes, and that’s why we can put our trust in Christ.
I’ve often said that hard times in life will do one of two things to us: they’ll either drive us away from God or turn us toward Him. Which is better? The answer is clear: It’s far better to put our lives into God’s hands than to try living without Him. The Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Mary, the mother of Jesus, experienced far greater sorrow than we will ever know, watching helplessly as her son was nailed to a cross. How could God let it happen? But by His death and resurrection Christ purchased our salvation, and that made all the difference — for her, and for us.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or go to www.billygraham.org.