This letter was written by a Harvester Halifax member to her son, in response to his struggles with the big questions of life and faith. We hope it can be of help to others who are struggling in a similar way:-
'First of all, I have a confession to make - I am brainwashed! But not in the way you think… My brain has been (and is still being) washed from all the worry, fear, anxiety, depression, sadness and anger that living in this world brings. You often say to me that I cope with things really well and get over difficulties in life because I haven’t got autism, but in fact I cope and overcome because I have God in my life to depend on and to hand difficult emotions and situations over to. If I didn’t have God, I would be struggling to cope with life, just like many other people who haven’t got autism also struggle.
When I was a teenager and on into my twenties, I did a lot of questioning of my faith. I haven’t just accepted it without really thinking it through. I have grappled with the big issues just like you are doing. But the thing that convinced me in the end was not getting sure answers to these questions, but the fact that the longer I lived, the more experiences I had that could not be explained in any other way than that there is a God who loves me and is interested in my life. I have had physical healings; mental healings; countless ‘co-incidences’; peace in situations that should have caused me great anxiety; spiritual experiences where I felt God’s presence with me; answers to prayer; strength and perseverance in difficult circumstances - the list goes on!
There are still questions I don’t know the answers to, and I’m sure there always will be, but some things are getting clearer as I learn more. One of them is that God does not ‘send’ people to hell. It is their decision to accept or reject Him, so what happens after they die is their own choice. Giving us freedom of choice was the most loving thing that God could have done. You know how you hate being forced to do anything? God understands this and gave us free will to choose Him or not to choose Him, but He doesn’t just leave us fumbling in the dark - He pursues us and gives us chance after chance to find Him and give our lives to Him. He created us and knows what we need to have true happiness. Many people who have become Christians later in life say that they only found real fulfillment in life once they got to know God.
Sadly, people can choose to do evil as well as good. The wars and atrocities done in the name of religion are not from God, they are all about men wanting to have power over each other. In fact, the Bible mostly uses the word ‘religion’ in a negative sense. There are only 6 verses that even mention the word - 3 of these are talking about how religion is a man-made and enforced set of rules and the other 3 talk about what true religion should be (living a life that helps others, obeying God and not being influenced by man’s evil). Contrast that with the word ‘faith’ that is mentioned 391 times - all of them positive! Do you see now why I would always rather use the word ‘faith’ and not ‘religion’?
God has made us all unique - there are lots of verses in the Bible that talk about us all being different, but when we work together as a body then we can do great things. I’m sure heaven will be the same - we will be like God in that we will understand things that our puny brains just can’t fathom now, but we will still have our own personalities and will be able to recognise each other. God certainly doesn’t want us all to be clones, that would make for a very boring world!
I would love to see you get to know God in your own way - not my way or dad’s way, but your way. I dare you to say this - ‘God, if you do exist, show yourself to me in a way that makes sense to me’ - then wait and see what happens. God is a perfect father - He will never force anything on you but longs to show you His love, if you’ll accept it.'