For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 – John 3:16

Warning: trigger alert! I know the following words might unsettle some people, but, here goes.

I love my mother-in-law. Adore my mother-in-law. I married my husband not for his dashing good looks and kind heart, but for his mom.

We’ve had a good run. She’s been a wonderful grandmother to my kids and a good friend to me.
Recently she fell, breaking several ribs. As she is closing in on her 90th birthday, I worried this fall might mark the end. I felt a huge sense of urgency as for many years I’ve tried to encourage her to come to church, to worship with us, to attend Bible Study, to read devotions. To kindle a passion for an intimate relationship with Christ. She has demurred. I worried this was her last chance and I prayed fervently (as I had for years) for her to have a personal and intimate encounter with Him. Our whole family prayed for her to feel God’s presence in the hospital room. Nothing.

I worried we might not see her on the other side.

What Is Faith?

I shared my worries with a friend and asked for her prayers. She replied with the verse that most of us learn when we first become believers. The one you see on posters at football games. One of the most known of all Bible verses. John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And as my friend prayed the words of that verse, one of them jumped out at me.


The Holy Spirit showed me that I was writing my own definition of believe. Once again, I was taking over the job of the author and perfector of our faith, defining for God what “believes” looks like. God didn’t say whoever “goes to church each week, wears their faith on their sleeve, hits up several devotion books each morning, attends Bible studies, tithes, serves on committees” shall have eternal life, but simply whoever “believes. “

Such wonderful peace I felt when I heard that word, “believes!” Of course, my mother-in-law believes. Just because it doesn’t look like my belief, doesn’t mean that she does not believe. And when she does finish her time here on earth, we WILL see her again. Thank you, Father, for friends who show us your truth in your word, for your generous definitions, and for your offer of salvation to all who believe (not subject to my definition).

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2

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