I’m like you; I’ve never taken a person’s earthly life. I can’t imagine what it would take to do that. I never want to see a person’s life leave their body at my hand. But, am I sure I’ve never taken someone’s life?
Lisa was a friend of mine, or at least that’s how I would describe her in worldly terms. Unfortunately, though, I don’t feel like I was a good enough spiritual friend. We were not extremely close friends but we became friends through working together on websites where I used to work. She was our organization’s webmaster and I took a first-hand interest in developing our site. So, we talked often and often at length and often about non-business matters. It was a long-distance friendship that continued later after we left our respective businesses, mostly through electronic media, namely e-mail and Facebook.
One day while we were discussing the website design over the telephone, the subject of the Christian faith arose. I probably said something about my faith in God off the cuff because I wasn’t strong enough to be forthright about it at that time. I mean, I didn’t want to mix my faith with business, right? That’s not politically correct. She proceeded to tell me that she had lost the faith. She told me that she “was once where you are” but something had caused her to doubt God’s existence and whether he really even cared about her. She said she had not necessarily become an atheist but probably, more accurately, an agnostic.
The term for her faith is just semantics, though, because either path leads to hell. I should have treated the situation more seriously. Instead, I told her all the “correct Christian things to say.” I told her that God had indeed not forgotten about her, or any of us. He did care for and love her, as he does all of us. I specifically remember, though, that my tone sounded a bit in passing and definitely non-enthusiastic. I doubt very much if it would have motivated me had I been on the receiving end of the conversation. There was little conviction in my comments considering a soul was on the line. I felt a little nervous wondering what she was thinking about me. Was I a Jesus freak? Was I a Bible thumper? Chances are she didn’t think either, especially if she factored in my enthusiasm to the assessment. She wasn’t the type to judge me. It was the first time I blew it reaching out to Lisa and her faith.
Sadly, it wasn’t my last.
Over the course of both of us changing jobs, our friendship drifted a little bit and continued primarily through Facebook. Also during this time, I became part of a small local non-profit group called Campfire Ministries. Through this group I started a Facebook page and each week I would go through my friend list and “invite” ones to “like” the page of Christian devotionals. My devotionals were short and maybe not too deep, since I was the primary author but they were obviously God focused. Every week I came to Lisa’s name and picture. Every week I chose not to invite her because I felt I might offend her by asking her to “like” something spiritual, knowing how she had fallen away from God. Every week I said I would invite her the next week. A real pathetic excuse, I know. I sucked! I wonder how many people I “overlook” are toiling in hell right now because Christians told themselves they would invite them to church “next week.”
On July 4, 2011, Lisa’s ex-husband (whom I have remained friends with and Lisa had as well) instant messaged me on Facebook with tragic news while I sat comfortably in a beach house in Florida. Someone driving in the oncoming lane on the highway in Lisa’s hometown had crossed the center line, hit her card head-on, and killed Lisa and her new husband instantly in a car accident. She had been married to her new husband for mere months and seemed extremely happy with the direction her life was taken. I have no idea if part of her new happiness had anything to do with faith when she died and that’s not for me to judge.
However, I do know that I didn’t help cultivate her faith at all. Because of that, her death haunts me because I assume she never repented. I certainly hope she did. Would the devotionals on Campfire Ministries have brought her back to the faith? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know because I don’t know how much my devotional writing inspires anyone. I do know that I will never know that answer here on earth because I didn’t even give those devotionals a chance with Lisa. The apathy I want to point out is not really specific to Lisa and her faith. What I want to address are all the Lisas in the world we might be murdering spiritually. Lisa and people like her are my inspiration for Thou Shall Not Populate Hell.