There is an older contemporary Christian song by the group DC Talk called, Some People Gotta Learn the Hard Way. This song embodies someone who is close to me in my life and I got to thinking maybe it might mean something to you as well to hear about my struggles with this.
It is always a joy to teach someone truth and to have the privilege of speaking into their lives on an ongoing basis. In this case, I have had the ability to teach God’s truth to someone for a very long time, over 20 years in fact! I have walked with them through many heartaches and trials, joys and fun times and I truly love this person.
A profession of faith and a claim of salvation has been made and yet…there has always been doubt. Life’s realities have not matched verbal professions very often. I have watched this person seesaw back and forth over the years closer to the Lord and then further away again without ever seeming to have gained any wisdom or any ground over the flesh. This has been difficult to observe.
I have gently (and sometimes not so gently) put my fingers in the pot to see if I could stir up some change, to see if the 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.
I have watched the 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? Many conversations, emails, rebukes, corrections, and infinite hours of training in righteousness have come to this point: I 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. I can no longer 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 this life has little in common with the Lord or His ways. The roots of this 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, I am letting go of this person, and turning them over to themselves. In truth, they left the safety of the homestead long ago but I tied a rope around their ankle so I would always be aware and able to help when needed. Now I have cut the rope and they are free to go their own way entirely. 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.