I’ve spent a good part of my life wondering what God thinks about certain things.
When I was a kid, I wondered what God thought about all the bad things I did. Sins they were called. It’s what the pastor at our church talked about most of the time. This thing called sin. It was everywhere, and I was bad because I did it, he said.
Even as an older adult, I still contemplate God’s thoughts. When I was divorced several years ago, I wondered how disappointed He was in me. Certain things I read said I’d just filled out my own prescription to Hell.
Today, I wonder a lot about how God’s going to bring all this worldly mess together for His glory. He will do that, no doubt, but I don’t have a clue how.
It was Warren’s subtitle that really caught my attention … What on Earth Am I Here For?
When I saw Warren’s book on the best seller shelf of my local bookstore, I devoured it, because it was exactly what I’d been wondering for years.
It’s one of only a few books that’s really had a profound effect on my life for the good, and since that time, nearly 20 years ago, Rick Warren has carried a special place in my heart, as is the case with so many others across the world.
And so last weekend, we all collectively mourned when we learned that his 27-year-old son Matthew took his own life, a result of chronic depression.
Sometimes very bad things happen to really good people.
When such “everyday things” happen to prominent people, it makes us wonder. The Warren family’s circumstance caused me to ponder a “God question” I thought about for many years.
Did Rick Warren’s son go to hell because he committed suicide?
The church teachings to which I was exposed as a child and young adult all basically gave an unfortunate, but profound “yes” to a this question. The justification behind the doctrine? In a nut shell, murder is a sin, the man took his life, and by taking his own life could’ve never repented for said sin. Harsh, but simple and true, the sin preachers preached.
It’s the academics of God’s word, I think they believed.
Because the authority figures taught that teaching, I bought it for the longest time. It made me sad, but I believed it because that’s what the men behind the pulpit said.
I’m glad I don’t believe this today. And thank God he’s not the God of Academics. Actually, he’s God of everything, but you know what I mean.
I didn’t know Rick Warren’s son, and truth is, I don’t know where he is today. I hope he’s in Heaven. But I do know this. He wasn’t doomed for Hell because he killed himself.
How do I know this? Because rather than counting mistakes and messes you and I make against us, His nature is forgiveness. Unquestionable, unconditional forgiveness, circumstances be damned.
Matthew Warren‘s mistake was an unfortunate one. Terrible timing with collateral damage everywhere – friends, family, you name it.
But it was a mistake, and that’s all it was. And mistakes don’t necessarily send you to Hell. I believe that, and I’m staking my life on it.