"Nancy! Please, don't go! Not like this!" I finally managed to say. My heart was racing like a runaway horse and my thoughts were stuck in miry clay.
Refusing to acknowledge my existence, my daughter hauled her bulging suitcase towards the front door.
TWELVE MONTHS AGO
"You know, mum, you were right. This is a great church the people are so friendly. And I just so relate to Elder John Michaels and his wife Grace," said my daughter Nancy while hugging me affectionately.
I hugged her back. "I'm just glad you came, darling. Adjusting to life in a new city is hard, I know, but I really felt that you would enjoy this church. A friend recommended it, and after just two visits I knew I wanted to join."
"You always seem to know exactly what I need, mum. That's one reason I feel so close to you," Nancy added.
"You're not my daughter, you're my twin!" I said, and not for the first time.
"Nancy, you mean the world to me, you know that, don't you?" I pressed, but to no avail. She reached the door and flung it open. My heart was shattered, but what could I do?
TEN MONTHS AGO
"Hey mum, I've got the best news!" said Nancy after a Saturday morning prayer meeting.
"That's great, honey, what is it?"
"John Michaels just invited me to join a special church group he holds weekly at his home," she beamed.
"Special church group?" I asked, feeling uneasy.
"Yeah, John Michaels and some of the other elders are members of the Holiness Seekers group. They hold these meetings at their homes," she replied.
"Can I come too?" I queried.
Nancy touched my arm lightly, "Sorry, mum, it's by invitation only for church members who are serious about seeing God's holiness manifested in their lives. And they noticed me-- what a compliment!"
I felt uncomfortable (and insulted--was I not serious about God too?), but did not voice my concerns as I was late for a work function. And with John Michaels being a church elder, this must be above board.
Nancy lugged her suitcase down the front steps. How had things come to this? What happened to the excellent rapport I shared with her? Many had commented in the past that we were more like close sisters than mother and daughter.
FIVE MONTHS AGO
"Nancy, I've just heard that you've quit Bible College. Why didn't you talk to me about this?"
"There was no need, mum. The Spirit showed John Michaels that I since I entered the course without consulting him or the other Holiness Seekers, I should not be there," she snapped. In the last few months, Nancy had become uncommunicative and distant. I had not broached the subject with her yet due to my belief that this was just a phase she was going through. Perhaps I should say something now?
"But, being a missionary was your life long dream," I pointed out.
"John Michaels said that the Spirit is all I need to grow and walk in the light. Theological training is a dead end," she explained.
I opened and closed my mouth like a fish out of water. Something was seriously wrong here, but perhaps tomorrow would be a better time to discuss this.
I watched as Nancy dragged her suitcase to the car waiting for her in the driveway. I was not surprised to see that John Michaels was the driver.
THREE MONTHS AGO
"Where have you been all weekend, Nancy? Even your mobile was switched off," I said cautiously when she arrived home late one Sunday evening.
"The Holiness Seekers had a revival camp this weekend," she said curtly.
"But why didn't you tell me? I've been worried sick."
"Mum, just drop it. I don't have to explain my actions to you, OK?" she shot back.
A thousand answers popped into my mind, but I so abhorred confrontation. Perhaps in a few days I would work out a way to explain my concerns regarding these Holiness Seekers.
As the car drove away, I wondered if I would ever see her again.
Three weeks ago, almost a year after she had joined that group, I had organised an 'intervention' for her. This included myself, my ex-husband (her father), and her grand parents. For three hours we had pleaded with her and explained our concerns regarding the hold the Holiness Seekers had over her life. We went to great lengths to tell her how much we loved her, but her response had been to totally cut us off.
I collapsed upon the front door step and moaned, "Where did I go wrong?"
However, I already knew the answer. As soon Nancy had told me of the invitation to join the invitation-only Holiness Seekers Group, I should have voiced my concerns. She respected me then and would have heeded my advice. Events would have taken a completely different course.
1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Peter Stone, a Bible College Graduate, has an international marriage and two children. Suffers from epilepsy and otosclerosis. He teaches Sunday school and plays the piano in church.
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