When I became a Christian not quite three years ago, I had a deep sense of urgency for the dying world around me.
It was as if I was awoken from a dream with a vision of coming destruction, and I had the whole world to warn. There were so many people who didn’t know the truth I now understood.
On a mission to share the gospel, my greatest fault was perhaps my unchecked zeal for sharing the good news with everyone I could. It was like I had escaped a fish tank, but my friends thought the new ocean I found was more restricting than their glass rectangle.
However, frantic preaching didn’t get me anywhere but in heated debates with hurt feelings and distrust. I’ve since come to realize I have an urgent message, but it is one that needs to be brought wrapped in love and patience.
When my heart grows weary aching for my lost loved ones, as it often does, I have to step back and fix my eyes on Jesus by reminding myself of these biblical truths.
Reflecting on God’s Grace Brings Hope
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. (Luke 15:4-5, ESV)
When I think back on my own journey to coming to Christ, I realize all the ways Jesus was pursuing me for years, without me even knowing. He sought out my heart: patiently, gently, and consistently until I surrendered my life to him (see Luke 15:1-7).
Dear friends, older mentors, and secret saints had been planting seeds of truth and love in my life, unbeknownst to me. It wasn’t until God lifted the veil off my eyes when I repented and placed my trust in Jesus that I could understand a glimpse of his eternal plan to save my soul (see 2 Corinthians 3:14-16).
I encourage you to look back at your own faith journey. In what ways has the Lord pursued you? Do you see glimpses of his faithfulness throughout your life, through people and circumstances and treasures he’s given you in his word? Hold on to that for just a minute.
Not Wanting Any to Perish
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9, ESV)
One of the first times my eyes poured tears over the lost, my sweet husband (then boyfriend) comforted me with this thought. He told me, “Emmie, you know how badly you want them to be saved? How much more do you think God loves them? He wants them to be saved more than you do.”
Admittedly, I need to hear that from him repeatedly. Sometimes I am so prideful to think that the love I have for my family and friends comes from myself when in reality all love I have comes from Christ (see 1 John 4:19).
I believe that Jesus is pursuing our family and friends in the very same way that he pursued us – because he does not wish that any should perish. And I believe that includes our loved ones, sweet friend.
May we continue in steadfast prayer for our loved ones to receive the call from God to believe in him.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4, ESV)
Known By Our Love
Our lives have a great purpose (see Matthew 28:19-20). We have a wonderful message to share to a hurting world, one of hope, restoration, and eternal life with a loving, just God who is worthy of all the world’s praise.
We get to be channels of God’s love, proof of God pursuing people in their own faith story! Not because we are worthy of that kind of purpose on our own but because we’ve been bought with the blood of Jesus and we are coheirs to this eternal purpose (see Romans 8:17)!
We can be reconciled to him, not because of a list of righteous deeds we need to perform, or a list of commands we need to keep. Instead, we simply need to come to him as we are, throwing away our wicked ways and forsaking our right to be lord of our life – and he will give us a new heart with a new desire for him and his ways (see Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
What a message of freedom for those swimming circles in the fish tank, trying to earn their rights to more dehydrated, stinky fish food! If they only knew what was waiting for them in the great blue sea of eternity, with depths to explore in the Scriptures and riches beyond our imagination in Christ Jesus.
But here’s the crucial thing we must not forget, sweet sister. We must always be diligent to wrap the truth of the gospel in love.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, ESV)
Fishes trapped in tanks are not going to respond well to frantic messages telling them to leave the comfort of the only life they know. You need to be gentle with these loved ones, dear friend, and mimic the Lord in his patient, persistent pursuit of their hearts.
Don’t lose hope, after all, he has given you the desire to preach the truth. It’s not your job to save them, only the Lord can do that, but you can love them with all you’ve got through the strength of Christ.