Never Give Up
By Jim Allen
A W Tozer* tells an uplifting 19th century tale about an old man riding a horse, shouldering a heavy grain sack. A person on foot noticed the anomaly and stopped the old man and asked, "Why don't you put the sack on the front of the horse's neck?" And the man replied, "She's got burden enough without carrying that, too..." (Source)
Although the story is a little quirky, it makes a good point. The horse is already laboring to carry both the man and his burden; moving the burden from the man's shoulder to the horse's neck won't change a thing for the horse; but it will make life easier for the rider. This tale is a picture of giving God the burden we can no longer carry (Psalm 55:22).
Another story, this one true, captures the gist of rolling over our burdens. This story involves a beloved evangelist who came to know the heaviest of burdens. He told about receiving a phone call from a police chief informing him his daughter was arrested for prostitution. At first he reasoned it was a mistake and the matter would be quickly resolved at the police station. But when he and his wife arrived and saw the photographic evidence identifying his daughter's involvement, everything changed.
How could God allow this to happen to the evangelist couple who had given their lives to win souls for Christ? The harsh reality of the moment pierced both hearts. It couldn't be true, they thought. But it was true and the nightmare wouldn't go away. But it gets worse. The daughter escaped from police custody and disappeared into the darkness of the night, becoming a prodigal.
After some initial phone communication, the prodigal daughter ended all contact. Days turned into months and then years. Though their prayers were unending, the nights were long and sleepless. All hope began to fade. They feared they would never see her again. They began to imagine the worst.
Their burden was heavy. The pain of not knowing followed them everywhere. During the day it was a dark cloud overhead and at night a darkness like no other. All their prayers and soul searching to understand why God allowed this to happen went unanswered; and still the evangelist couple continued in the Lord's work. They were faithful.
The couple kept their prodigal daughter's life a private matter for a time. But like most things, word got out. People knew and a hush fell over the ministry. They loved their daughter and prayed for her daily; but the burden eventually became too heavy to carry. They gave it to the Lord. Like the man on the horse they did not need to carry the burden. God was there to lighten the load.
After ten years of wallowing in the ways of the world, the seed planted years earlier in the daughter's heart took root and began to grow, pushing through the dark soil of her prodigal life. The prodigal realized she was living among the swine and eating as they. Feeling unclean and forsaken, she remembered her saintly parents and the Parable of the Prodigal; she knew she had become such-a-one and went home to a great celebration.
Why did God allow this beloved couple to endure years of not knowing if they would ever see her again? Would not a month or year have been enough? Why ten years? What was to be gained by it all? One could suppose there were many reasons. No one knows for sure.
Sometimes when doing a work in a prodigal family member, God is also doing a work in us. God is like that. He watches our reaction to what seems like unanswered prayer because it tells Him a lot about our faith under trial. Even more important is the need to learn how to wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14).
God is aware of our prayers and more than able to protect our prodigals during their time away. Even so, why does God delay saving a loved one? Another reason could be it's His way of causing believers to press in close, pray often, and endure long (Psalm 55:22). I have experienced long periods of unanswered prayer and found that pressing closer to God is the only comfort.
God knows it's hard to roll over the burden of a loved one into His arms. He knows our hearts are fused with theirs and letting go is hard to do. But sometimes it's what we must do. This does not mean we stop praying. It simply means salvation is His work.
Many of us have adult family members who were led to Christ, read the Bible at one time, walked in faith, but now avoid talking about their faith. We wonder if they were ever born again. We dare not judge (Luke 18:9-14). Only God knows and only He can examine the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
But, here's the thing. A seed planted in a loved one's heart needs time to grow. It may lie dormant for years. But, it's there. You know it's there. There's a lot going on under the surface of the soul we cannot see. We cannot see or hear or feel the forces at work to till the soil of the heart; nor can we understand why the lapse in time seems so long.
Perhaps one way to unshoulder this burden is to remember our job is to share and live the Gospel. After that, salvation is God's work (John 6:44). Sometimes we just need to rest a little, wait awhile, and believe our precious Lord is at work doing the miraculous (Psalm 27:14). During this work we continue pray and believe and thank God for tilling the soil of their heart to receive the good seed of salvation.
It is also worth remembering God's desire for their salvation is greater than we can know. In this truth we can find a measure of rest (1 Timothy 2:3-5). But it's a burden nonetheless and one we need not carry alone. The point is, God invites you and me to roll our burden over into His everlasting arms (Psalm 55:22).
For this evangelist couple, ten years passed before the seed began to sprout. It then grew. She came home. Today she is in Christian service, a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Was this a test of faith? Whatever it was the evangelist couple's final message to all believers enduring the same is: "Never give up." Why? Because after we've shared the Gospel we are called to pray, believe, and endure long; time is on God's side and nothing is impossible (Romans 12:12; Luke 1:37).
In closing on this theme, Adrian Rogers writes, "The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation." (Source)
Expect a miracle. Never give up!
* Aiden Wilson Tozer was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. For his work, he received two honorary doctoral degrees.
Image Credit: Britt-knee; "(306/365) the weight of the world..."; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Hardships
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