She hated anyone who believed in God. A self-proclaimed atheist, the young woman did everything she could to destroy the faith of believers in Jesus. She would even write vulgar things on the pages of their Bibles. But then, as the Holy Spirit worked in her life and Christians continued to reach out lovingly to her, her hard heart began to melt. Soon she considered herself an “agnostic.” Then came the day she fell to her knees and tearfully received Jesus as her Savior. Recently, I was privileged to have a part in her baptism. Faith had replaced disbelief. Love had conquered hate.

The people of ancient Israel struggled with their view of God, much like my young friend did for many years. Moses called them to turn from idolatry and to seek God with all their heart and soul (Deuteronomy 4:11-19,29). By doing so, they would “find Him.” They were also instructed to “keep [this] firmly in mind: “The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:39). This is a truth that my young friend finally acknowledged.

Moses didn’t give up on the people he was striving to lead to the one true God (Deuteronomy 4:35), and neither should we. God’s love and blessing (Deuteronomy 4:37) may not be apparent to those you know—people who don’t acknowledge Him and perhaps act hatefully toward you. But don’t give up. God’s mercy can reach even the hardest of hearts (Deuteronomy 4:31).

Whether you’re reaching out to atheists, agnostics, or even backslidden believers in Jesus, be encouraged. The young woman I mentioned above is a living example of a person who has turned from hate and embraced the love of God. Keep pointing the people in your life to the loving God whom they might one day “find” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 2:13-23