This morning, allow me to ask you something. But, before you answer, I want you to carefully consider what you say. Okay, here we go . . . is it possible (as remote as it may be) that you are limiting our Lord? Is your Jesus so small, so limited, that you can’t believe his Spirit might be doing a deep, hidden work in the heart of your friend or loved one? Are you judging them for not measuring up to your image of what a believer is? Not sure? Then let me ask that a different way. Do you believe that God is big enough to work in ways that are unseen? Are you limiting what our Lord can (or will) do? Do you believe “So-and-So” is too far away and rebellious to find the Lord? Maybe he is too “hardcore” for the Holy Spirit to do His work?
Okay, so they indeed surrendered to the Lord. Are you concerned that they don’t seem to be maturing in in their relationship to Christ? Have you begun to size them up, but using your own concept of Christ’s work in their lives? Have you determined what it means to be a true follower of Christ and don’t see your friend or loved one moving toward that definition?
I remember a story that David Wilkerson used to tell about a woman named Celeste Horvath. About 35 years ago, this woman walked into the Teen Challenge in Brooklyn. As Wilkerson’s story goes, Horvath used to run a prostitution ring that catered to some of the nation’s most famous men. Interestingly, Horvath grew 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.
She was quite good at that business, but as her prostitution ring grew, she became addicted to drugs. Although, during that time there was a battle was going on in her heart. Night after night, she prayed, “God, please let me live just one more day.” Eventually, she was 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, you know, that never hindered Jesus! He never forgot her. One day, in her loneliest hour, she prayed and was broken before the Lord. The change came immediately 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 had never 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 saw her an evangelist!
Wilkerson stated that Horvath showed up at Teen Challenge just before she was sentenced, and they took her in. She indeed served time in prison, however, while there, she became the evangelist God had called her to be! In fact, while she was in jail, she led many people to Jesus. When she was released, she became a powerful street preacher and later began a church on Long Island, a congregation that is still on fire to this day!
Interestingly, I found someone else’ testimony of Horvath. In their book, From Darkness to Light, Frank and Joan Testa (an ex-priest and former nun) described how they meet Horvath:
Through a few godly women on staff, Joan was introduced to evangelical and Pentecostal evangelistic meetings. It was at one of those meetings in a black Pentecostal church that a woman evanglelist, Celeste Horvath, recruited us to help her intiate weekly evangelistic meetings at the YMCA in Newwark. Celeste was a former madam who was converted after being prosecuted for her high crime network of servicing politicians and sports stars. There we were, a former nun and ex-priest assisting a former madam running an evangelistic outreach to the “least, the last and the lost” of the streets at the YMCA on Broad Street. It didn’t matter what the religious folks thought, we knew Jesus delivered all of us and put in our hearts a burden for the lost.
I don’t know for certain, but some may have given up on me. No, I wasn’t running a prostitution ring and I never killed anyone or even 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 (Hosea 11:4). Funny thing is, when I was in high school, I knew I would be a preacher. In fact, I would take a toke from a joint and tell everyone that I would be a preacher! So, no, there was nothing in my life to support that thought, but somehow I knew 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, a good friend, and you have witnessed to them, prayed for them, and maybe even overwhelmed them with your proselytizing (we can get a little aggressive sometimes . . . 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 that I had given up on _________ (say their name), I know you haven’t. Please 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 is 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.