Q: I left God behind when I went to college and then got a job. Now I'm in my 40s and going through some tough times, and I can't help but wonder if God is punishing me for ignoring Him all these years. Is He behind the troubles I'm having? -- Z.R.
A: If you went for a walk in the woods, but then decided to wander off the path, and found yourself surrounded by a thicket of thorns and poison ivy, who would you blame? Would you blame the person who built the path? No, of course not. Instead you'd blame yourself if you were honest, because you alone were responsible for wandering from the path.
In a far deeper way, this is what happens when we decide to leave God out of our lives. For a time, it may seem like wandering away from Him doesn't make any difference; it may even seem easier and freer. But eventually it catches up with us -- just as wandering off that path and into the thicket caught up with you. The Bible warns, "You may be sure that your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
In other words, life is full of moral and spiritual "thickets" and pitfalls that can hurt us or even destroy us. But God loves us, and He doesn't want this to happen to us. Instead, He wants to guide us in right paths, and to be with us every step of the way.
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Don't stay in the thicket; don't stay away from God any longer. Instead, turn to Him in repentance and faith, asking Him to forgive you for your sins, and giving your life to Jesus Christ. God's promise is true: "Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble" (Psalm 119:165).
(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 visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: www.billygraham.org.)(c)2017 BILLY GRAHAM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.