Over the years I have watched people journey in their walk with God. Some stop walking, some walk to where they came from and others advance further than even their own expectations.
But recently I was faced with the question…”when do you go after the one?”
In Luke 15 Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep. He says,
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?”
We can pastor, advise, guide people but we can not live people’s lives for them. We can not make decisions for them because when we do, more often than not those same people you tried to encourage, help, support and guide turn around and blame you for their wrong decisions.
So what do we do when these people walk away? These people you ploughed time, effort and emotional energy into? Do we chase them? Do we go after the one?
Back in my teens I was zealous for God but to the point where I possibly drove the backslider further away from God through my efforts to point out all the bad decisions they were making.
To draw people back to God sometimes we have to withdraw and allow them to take the journey (sometimes hit rock bottom) and make the decision to come back to Christ.
I’ve learned that in these situations we go after “the one” through prayer. I know there are many praying parents whose children have walked away from God. Approaching the subject with them has ended in arguments and debates so God becomes a taboo subject.
In the story of the Prodigal Son later in Luke 15, the Father let his son go, and the father waited. Only when the son “came to his senses” did he return. What was the father doing whilst he waited? I imagine that he was praying. Notice he didn’t send people looking for him, he wasn’t sending messages or trying to keep tabs on what his son was doing. He was watching and waiting, until…
“…while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
Keep praying!! Through prayer, God’s Holy Spirit is going after “the one”…
Sometimes God has purposefully brought people across my path. Conversations have lead to “will you help me,” to coming back to Church and ultimately restoration of their relationship with God.
It’s important to be sensitive to God’s Holy Spirit in these time to know when to engage and when to hold back.