The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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“... God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
After meeting together for some months, a student came to explain to me that he did not want to meet up any more. The reason was that I was not encouraging him and he felt hurt. I really struggled in my heart over this news. I suffered from a deep sense of rejection. I had been giving him my heart, I had been praying for him, he seemed to have been making progress and now it was all in tatters.
Others suggested that maybe it was more his problem than mine. I should just brush it off and carry on. These things did happen, and discipleship can be tough on the emotions at times. I was not convinced. As I prayed a verse came to mind that I had been told about at the training program in Show Low. “And we urge you, brother, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NIV) As I began to think about it I realised that I had only one strategy for helping people grow: I urged, people. Yet here was Paul with these three other strategies and above all he asks us to be patient.
The urging was for those who were mature, those who would be dealing with the less mature. Yet here I was urging everyone and the consequences were painful, especially for this one person who was very clearly weak and needed encouragement instead of pressure. I realised later that I have this tendency of wanting everyone to be perfect and not being content with the fact that growth is necessary. It became painfully obvious later as I tried to teach my son to swim that I would only be content if he swam perfectly instantly. I had real difficulties accepting his timidity.
What had exasperated the situation with this student was that I could see the consequences of the paths that he was taking ahead of time. It seemed to me that the paths he was taking were going to cause a lot of pain, not only to him but also to those he was near. I was struggling because I wanted to protect everyone from that pain and so often when we met it became obvious that I was not succeeding. The only recourse I had to try and prevent it was to apply emotional pressure through urging, and to warn of the consequences. That could last for some time but in the end an empty heart will give in to temptation. The only one who could truly overcome was Jesus.
It is interesting that God does not apply that kind of pressure to me until He knows I am mature enough for it. He suffers that awful pain of seeing me mess up in life, while knowing that He could intervene. He endures these situations because He knows the answer does not come from preventing pain, but rather from the love of Jesus. Ultimately He chooses not to control me with a barrier on the outside constructed with exhortations but rather helping me to fill up with Jesus. It is Jesus who pours Hlove into our hearts by his Holy Spirit, it is by the experience of his love that I gain a strength from within to face the world. It is the very reason that He relates to us freely with grace instead of controlling us by law.
LAW AND GRACE