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What do you do when a Christian falls away? (Charisma archives)

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Bonnie and I were walking out the door when I heard the phone ring. I quickly turned back into the house, preparing to take a message and return the call later. "Mike, this is Amy." The voice of an old friend on the other end of the line surprised me. What she said next stopped me in my tracks.

"Can you please call Alan? He told me he's in love with another woman and asked for a divorce. I don't think he'll listen to anyone else."

As Amy wept on the phone, my mind was flooded with memories. Bonnie and I had known Amy and Alan for years. Alan and I went to college together. They had helped us in our first church by serving in the youth ministry. It was hard to believe Alan was willing to destroy his marriage and fracture his family--all for another woman.

I subsequently spoke with Alan on numerous occasions. No matter what I said, he was bent on pursuing personal pleasure at the expense of his family. He ultimately married the woman from this adulterous relationship only to divorce her a little more than a year later.

Only a short time later, Alan was married for the third time. Ironically, his third wife called me one night. She voiced her confusion and disappointment as she explained that Alan was not the man she thought she had married.

Yet despite this track record of poor decisions, whenever I spoke with Alan, he saw himself as a victim of circumstance, unable to take personal responsibility for his actions or his life. He continued to delude himself into thinking his actions were justified.

Over the years, I have ministered to many Christians who have experienced moral failure such as Alan's. The circumstances are as varied as the people involved, but the results are as common as they are inevitable--broken families, shattered lives and severely crippled ministries.

In spite of the tragedy infidelity creates, life does go on. But what I find most disconcerting is the lack of genuine restoration and healing. Far too many of these people continue their lives as mere shadows of what they once were. Why? Because they are unwilling to embrace the principles that release God's supernatural work of restoration.

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