Learning the Hard Way

Some people gotta learn the hardway I guess I'm the kinda guy That has to find out for myself... The Hardway,  by DC Talk From the CD Free At Last

...the way of the transgressor is hard. Proverbs 13:15 

It is always a joy to teach someone truth and to have the privilege of speaking into their lives on an ongoing basis. I have had the ability to teach God's truth for a very long time, over 20 years in fact! I have walked with people through many heartaches and trials, joys and fun times and I truly love the ministry the Lord has given me.

In some of the lives I have touched the response has been dramatic and heart change has taken place quickly and the people have thrown off all the vestiges of their sinful lives. In other lives I have had to gently (and sometimes not so gently) see if I could stir up some change, to see if their conversion was real, and if perhaps, the weight of sin was so great on their heart that they needed a hand up to the level ground at the foot of the cross. All for little reward.

We struggle when those around us make a claim of salvation and life's realities do not often match verbal professions. We watch them seesaw back and forth, sometimes appearing to walk closer to the Lord and then we watch them move further away again without seeming to have gained any wisdom or any ground over the flesh.

It is difficult to watch their struggles with hope against hope that because a struggle even exists it must mean something! It must mean there is something within that causes the struggle (Gal. 5:17), right? We may have many conversations, send numerous emails, deliver countless rebukes, corrections, and spend infinite hours training them in righteousness and one day you come to the point where you realize you have to let go.

Letting go is a devastating thing for me. It means the Prodigal is truly that- a Prodigal. It means that my hopes and dreams for them in Christ are temporarily and maybe permanently dashed against the rocks of death and separation from God. It is at this point I can no longer confidently conclude their profession is a real one, I cannot convict them of being a Christian.

Oh how this grieves my heart! In my humanity I desire their salvation more than they do, and to my great sorrow they believe that they possess a great salvation already! I am no judge of mens hearts or souls, yet I know what the Bible says to be true- “You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16)

The fruit of their life has little in common with the Lord or His ways. The roots of their tree are shallow and seeped in the foul ground of prideful self and idolatry, so there can be no other result. I have taken that tree and shaken it many times and some of the rotten fruit fell off, but never far from the tree. Its decay only added to the foulness of the ground and low, before long new fruit of the same variety grew in its place.

It is time to let go. As the loving father did in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we must let the person go, and turn them over to the Lord. In truth, they left the safety of the homestead long ago but we often tie a rope around their ankle so we will be aware and able to help when needed. At some point we have to cut the rope and release them to be free to go their own way.  No more help, no more wise words, no more harbor of safety and comfort when needed.

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God Hebrews 10:31.