Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Letting Them Walk Away... and Praying for Their Return

It was recently brought to my attention that Jesus did not chase after the rich young ruler. Have you ever thought about that? We focus on the actions of the young man, but I have never really thought about the fact that Jesus loved the man enough to give him the answer to his question, but he did not chase after the young man when he walked away. That is a meaningful response in my current life journey. There are people in my life that will walk away - some already have. And they are people that I love, some that I love more than I love my own life. But just like the rich young ruler, they must make their own choices. If they are choosing to walk away right now, even if it is in sadness, I will not change their hearts by chasing after them. I cannot bring them back into my life unless they choose to turn around and come back to me.

A simple interpretation might be that I must set my own personal boundaries, and it is my responsibility to let others know where those boundaries lie. Then, the other person(s) must decide if they want to abide by those boundaries or not. If they choose not to, it is not going to help anything to change my boundaries. So, when someone chooses to walk away from us rather than to live with our boundaries, it is our responsibility to allow them to make that choice, even as Jesus allowed the young man to choose to walk away because he could not live with the boundary that Jesus presented. Jesus did not try to explain why the boundary existed. He did not try to defend it or offer to adjust it to meet the needs of the rich young ruler. He watched the man walk away. The Bible does not tell us if the rich young ruler ever turned around, but I hope that he did. Jesus gives us all many, many opportunities to turn back around. And when we do, the door is always open. In fact, He knocks at the door and invites us to come in. But He never moves the door. The door is never locked to us, but it is not one that we can walk through and still live our life in our own way. "For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required." (Luke 12:48). Jesus expects repentance. He requires an intimate relationship with Him. He loved us enough to die for us, but our salvation requires action on our part. He does not vary on that. It is a line drawn in the sand. We are invited the step into a life of following Jesus as Lord.

There will be some in my life who insist that I adjust my boundaries because they believe that to not do so is the same as not loving others. This is simply not true. Rick Warren said "Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate."  I can love someone and not allow them to ignore my boundaries. The door is always open. I am here when they are ready to come back. I will forgive now. I will offer assistance when needed. I will pray for them and love them. I will never stop hoping that they turn around and come back to me. But I cannot change who I am or what I believe because they cannot accept these truths about me.

In the meantime, I will trust that God has a plan for them and for me and that His plan is good. I will praise Him through the storm. I will never stop believing that he is working on my behalf and He holds those I love in the palm of His hand. I can rest assured knowing that He is searching for His lost sheep. I will ask Him to teach me the things that I can learn from these situations. I will continue to feed myself with the word of God and spend time listening for God's guidance. I do not need to fear, as I know He is fighting for us. HIS Love will sustain us. This I know. For the BIBLE tells me so!

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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