Are you worried about a family member or friend who doesn’t seem to be growing or maturing in Christ? When you start to size that person up, are you using your own concept of Christ for their lives? Have you drawn your own circle of what it means to be a true follower of Christ and don’t see your loved one moving in that circle?
Is it possible that you are limiting Christ? Is your Jesus so small, so limited, you can’t believe his Spirit might be doing a deep, hidden work? Are you judging them for not measuring up to your image of what a believer is? Let me ask that a different way. Do you believe that God is big enough to work on him in ways that are unseen?
David Wilkerson tells a story a woman named Celeste Horvath. About 35 years ago, this woman walked into the Teen Challenge in Brooklyn. She was reported to run a prostitution ring that catered to some of the nation’s most famous men. Horvath had grown up in a Pentecostal home, and her praying grandmother had prophesied over her, “You’re going to be an evangelist.” But Celeste rejected her church upbringing and turned to prostitution.
As her prostitution ring grew, she became addicted to drugs. But during that time, a battle was going on in her heart. Night after night, she prayed, “God, please let me live just one more day.” She was finally arrested. The news made national headlines. At one point her brother wrote to her, saying, “You’ve so shamed our family, you’re beyond redemption.”
But Jesus had never forgotten her. One day in her loneliest hour, she prayed and was broken before the Lord. The change in her was immediate, and she instantly became a new creature.
Everyone who had seen her life from the outside thought she was utterly hopeless, totally unmovable. But they had a limited view of Christ. They hadn’t seen the Holy Spirit at work in her all through the years. While the people in Horvath’s life had seen her only as common and unclean, the Lord had seen in her an evangelist.
Wilkerson says that Horvath showed up at Teen Challenge just before she was sentenced, and they took her in. She eventually served time in prison where she became the evangelist God had called her to be. She led many people to Jesus while in jail. When she was released, she became a powerful street preacher and eventually she started a church on Long Island, a congregation that is still on fire today.
I don’t know for certain, but some may have given up on me. Oh, I wasn’t running a prostitution ring or killed anyone or served time in jail. But I was lost, lonely and confused. You know your own story and maybe people gave on you. But whatever it took for each of us, we eventually came to know Jesus.
Yes, some may have given up on us, but thank God, He didn’t give up. He continued to draw us with, as the scripture describes it, His cords of Love. Funny thing is, when I was in high school, I knew I would be a preacher. Oh, there was nothing in my life to support that thought, but I knew some how I would find my way to the Lord, and that He had a plan and purpose for my life.
Look at that loved one in your family, or maybe it is someone you work with, you’ve prayed for them, you’ve witnessed to them, maybe even overwhelmed them with your proselytizing (we can get a little aggressive . . . okay, be honest, obnoxious . . . in our evangelizing), but you have seen no results. Don’t give up. Our Lord can break the toughest of hearts and reach the most resistant soul.
The bottom line is, don’t limit our God. Even the guy who we know as the Apostle Paul said, “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever” (I Timothy 1:15-16).
Father, you are indeed merciful . . . and patient . . . you never gave up on me and although I admit giving up on _________ (say their name), I know you haven’t given up on them. I ask you to forgive me for the mean things I said about them and I admit my nagging and arguing hasn’t won them over. So, right now, I release them to your care and concern.
This morning Father, I thank you for continuing to draw them; to pursue them; to reach out to them. Whatever it takes, Father, break through their resistance and bring them into your Kingdom. Beginning right now, I confess _________ is saved and reborn into your Kingdom. Father, I will never again speak against your work in their life.
(Go ahead and rejoice! In fact, dance a jig in your room because that person is on the road to our Father!)
(Oh, by the way, don’t write me complaining that it’s taking too many years for that person to come to the Lord. My father was in his 80’s when he admitted his need. The point is, he came and that is all that matters)
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.