Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Setting Boundaries and Making Wise Decisions

Good morning, everyone.

After not actively writing on my blog nor newsletter in several weeks, I thought I would give you an update as to what has been going on that has hindered me from taking these privileges seriously.

I would like to start by saying that the Lord is a good God who always has our best interest at heart. Sometimes when trials last longer than we had anticipated, opportunities fall through, people change or walk out of our lives, we experience health concerns or poverty, or a number of other circumstances that go on in life, we can begin to slack off with our responsibilities, stop seeking and serving the Lord as we ought, and just waste our time by seeking comfort through fun or laziness instead of remaining accountable, continuing going to church, and making Bible reading a daily priority.

One joy I have in life is being a mentor for my younger brother. Our conversations are filled with wisdom, accountability, tackling difficult problems and issues in society from a Biblical perspective, and growing as individuals in the context of quality family time, long walks, and intentional conversation. We realize how easy it would be to get distracted by friends, hobbies, and responsibilities if we do not guard our time together as a family, so we take steps toward ensuring we communicate on a regular basis. Valuable people whom you can speak to about anything and be real with are a rare find and worth guarding from anything that might waste our time or take away from something meaningful. This hasn't fully been the case though on my part and for this I am regretful and have taken steps to correct it.

Over the past two months, I befriended a young man around my brother's age who was once the best friend of one of my relatives. I had known of him for several months and would see him around town, being intrigued by how he stood out from the crowd and how obvious it was that he was a hurting person in need of quality people and deep discussions. My family and I took him under our wing and we have had a lot of fun making a tradition of having Whole Foods pizza at the park once weekly, inviting him to church with us and over for dinner, spending time at each other's homes, going to local concerts and sitting at restaurants late into the evening talking heart to heart. I have been able to share many quotes with him, been a counselor and confidant, practiced hospitality through rides given, meals shared, and practical gifts that met needs, etc. We have gotten to the heart of the matter with many issues he experiences in life and the times he and I would spend together nearly always entailed him crying and explaining his inner world, family life, and past with its issues, abuse, troubles, and pain. Our friendship has benefited us both, been an encouragement, and brought about a deep connection through mutual sharing, similar interests, experiences, and viewpoints. My family and I have been praying for him over the last several months consistently and the results of our friendship have shown evidence of a God-ordained relationship that has produced character, challenged and corrected thinking, and provided support and love where he had previously never experienced. It has been a beautiful time of practically showing the love of Christ to a soul that needs Him.

Over the past two weeks especially, he has begun spending more time with others and less time with me. There has been a clear difference in him with this change and I am reminded of First Corinthians 15: 33 which states: "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals.' " The principle being that bad influences can tear our hearts away from walking on the right path towards God and wholeness/healing. Observing him also reminds me of my own history in the past of returning to my old ways, sinful patterns, and time-wasters even after knowing better and experiencing the blessing of special friends who took the time to mentor and love me in the midst of my pain. It is painful to see someone begin to pull their heart away from an individual and family that has graciously made the time to love and help a person clearly in need of direction.

He blames his absence and growing disinterest in time with us on a home life that has become increasingly hostile and his want for fun at this time in his life since it is easy and more entertaining than doing the hard work of working on issues one by one in the context of well-meaning and involved individuals. I have gotten the most time with him out of the members in my family so it hurts my heart to realize how finicky the human heart can be and how prone we are to wander and even run from what we know is best for us, especially long-term. What has comforted me is recalling a few sentences my Pastor said a while back in a sermon regarding ministering to the lost and hurting. He said something to the effect of, "Genuine conversion and repentance requires many steps. You may be steps __ through __ and thus you are used by God in that person's life to the extent He calls you to."

My friendship and my family's involvement with this young man has not fully ended. He cares to keep in touch, but less often. I can see the Lord's hand and beseech His will to be accomplished in this friendship because only He knows what trials this guy must go through and what mistakes he has yet to make that will help ultimately show him his need for God and lead him to the loving arms of Jesus where he will find the freedom, acceptance, and fulfillment he has always longed for.

God is a good God and He is all-knowing. He knows what it will take to bring a person to genuine faith and solid commitment to Him through His Son. He knows whether our time ministering to this guy has been completed and whether or not the friendship will endure over time (even in the midst of separation at this point).

I share this with you all because I perceive humans to think that we must solve all issues or be the ones to rescue people from walking toward destruction (both hell and the ruining of ourselves on this earth). I realize looking back over the past two months that while the time I have given this young man has indeed been special, life-changing, and restoring for both of us, I cannot expect to be the one to keep him fully safe from the lures of this world and soundly convert him in my own strength or abilities. It is God alone that can change the human heart, open spiritually blind eyes, and call people into a lasting relationship with Himself. It is God alone that can so change the sinner that sleaze begins to lose its appeal and right living becomes desirable. It is God alone that can bring a person to the point of full surrender and willing submission to His will and ways. God alone gets the glory. God alone has the power. God alone is perfect in all His ways and His timing is perfect.

No matter what is going on in each of your individual lives, no matter how concerned you are for the people you know or know of, I would highly encourage you to place those people in the hands of a mighty and able God who is faithful to bring about the best result in all situations. What a comfort to know that God is on His throne, nothing catches Him by surprise, and He sovereignly decrees everything as it ought to be.

I am learning that it is foolish to try and take on the role of God in anyone's life, no matter how pure and noble our intentions. I am learning that by praying daily for people and committing them to the Lord, that they are then in the safest hands possible. I am learning anew that the human heart is wretched and can only be changed through God's salvation and continued work, intervention, and faithfulness in our lives and that no one is beyond His reaching.

Don't allow your responsibilities and relationships to suffer in life by giving more time than you ought to people or situations that require God to work mightily and not just you taking on burdens that may be too heavy for you to carry alone. As believers, we can clearly see the state of this world and how broken people are, yet for our well-being and for the sake of the roles God has called us to, we must be willing to open our hands and freely give God anything (or anyone) that we assume we are the answer to, so to speak.

I hope you have a great day. May you be reminded of our mighty God's goodness and perfect character, His ability to correct people's paths and intervene in ways we never thought possible, and the truth of Second Peter 3: 9:

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."


Mrs.L said...

Beautifully stated, Emma.Thank you for sharing your heart.

Emma Joy said...

You're welcome. I always appreciate when you leave comments, Mrs!

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