There are a lot of people in my life who don’t know Jesus as their Savior. And for as long as I’ve known them, this has been dead-weight stretched across my shoulders.
The more people I meet like them, the heavier the weight becomes and the lower I hunch over. My eyes instantaneously fill with tears at the thought of my family and friends not knowing Jesus and not having freedom or hope… how do they wake up and get out of bed each day? How do they know which way is up? How in the world do they carry their load and fight off their demons?
If I’m being honest, lately, that weight has been too much to bear. I was breaking, and so was my heart.
Yes, I’ve prayed for them. Yes, I’ve tried to live my life as a joyful, hopeful, unashamed witness. And while I believe wholeheartedly all of these things make an eternal difference, there was still a part of me that felt hopeless, even after the years of presenting these requests on my knees to God. Why, Lord? Why do I feel so hopeless?
I stood in the doorway of my roommate’s bedroom, sharing (through many, many tears) my heartache. She listened quietly to my unbearable pain, letting me cry and ask the hard questions… the questions I’ve never vocalized before. Caroline, what if God never answers my prayers? I cannot bear the thought of being in heaven without them.
It was then that I admitted to her to the prayer I was terrified to pray: Lord, please save ALL of my family and friends who don’t yet know you. Have mercy on them, call them home. Let us all be in heaven together, not one person left behind.
That is the scariest prayer I can think of praying. Because, what if this doesn’t happen? What will I think of God then?
It was then that Caroline shared with me what the Holy Spirit had imparted on her while I was spilling my heart. She said, “Maddy, it sounds to me like you see your requests to God being up for discussion or debate, like His response could be, ‘that is a nice thought but I’ll pass.’. That’s not our Father’s heart. Jesus is NEXT to you, on HIS knees, interceding for these people, too. He is weeping WITH you, and His heartbreak is MORE than yours because those are HIS children. He literally bore the weight you feel on HIS shoulders on the cross. To God, there is no such thing as a proposition or suggestion for somebody to be saved, there is only partnership with our God who chases after these people every single day. And because of that, we get to ask God, ‘Lord, what is your next move in pursuing your daughter or son? How can I partner with you in that?’”
As if straight from the mouth of Jesus himself, Caroline’s words knocked me off my feet. It was clear that I had been straight up relying on myself, my actions, my initiations, my plans, my words to have these people saved. I believed that I was the only one who cared enough, the only hope they had to meet Jesus and receive salvation. And while I wouldn’t have claimed that, my tearful reaction proves otherwise.
Friends, I urge you. Let this story be a picture of God’s role in pursuing His lost sheep. Our heartache can be a pleasing and holy thing to God because it charges us to action and prayer, which God loves. But there is a line that marks off our territory and His territory. When our friends and family cross over into God’s territory, we have to trust that His Spirit is pursuing, His Son is interceding, and that in the right timing, He will intervene.
Do not be discouraged if it takes time to trust God with this. I completely understand your urgent and aching heart. Ask that He might impart his perfect peace to you as you choose every day to trust our Creator and His plan for redeeming the whole world.
Maddy // @_maaaddy