“Woe to the obstinate children,”
declares the Lord,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin;
who go down to Egypt
without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,
to Egypt’s shade for refuge.
But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame,
Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace.
Though they have officials in Zoan
and their envoys have arrived in Hanes,
everyone will be put to shame
because of a people useless to them,
who bring neither help nor advantage,
but only shame and disgrace.”
- Isaiah 30:1-5
“The timing is as critical as the involvement. You don’t just force your way in. Even if you’ve got the stuff that’s needed … even if you hold the piece perfectly shaped to fit the other person’s missing part of the puzzle … you can’t push it into place. You must not try.
“You must do the most difficult thing for compassion to do.
“You must wait.
“Yes, that’s correct. Wait.
“Even if there is rebellion? Even if there’s rebellion.
“Even if sin is occurring? Yes, often even then.
“Even if others are suffering and disillusioned and going through the misery of misunderstanding, heartache, and sleepless nights?
“Believe it or not, yes.
“There are times (not always, but often) when the better part of wisdom restrains us from barging in and trying to make someone accept our help. The time isn’t right, so we wait.”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch
Isaiah goes into more detail, as does Swindoll about this chapter of Isaiah. The timing was not right, and the people did not go to God and wait for God’s reply, thus the alliance with Egypt was going to not turn out well.
I should have learned this lesson long ago. I have been like a bull and charged forward with godly intentions, just to butt my head against a brick wall. I was never one for waiting. Still today, I hate lines, queues as the British might say. I remember the joke about two queues waiting to get into heaven. One line was for hen-pecked husbands; it stretched clear out of sight with men waiting in line. The other line was for non-hen-pecked husbands. There was one small fellow standing there. St. Peter was curious, so he asked the guy why he was the only one in that line. The man said, “My wife told me to get into this line.”
I would have gone into that line, because I hate lines. No, waiting to get into Heaven… Isn’t that what we are doing now? And I have so much to do before I get there, why spend so much time waiting in line?
But what if you talk to someone that you love and they spew hatred back at you, especially about God? You cannot argue someone into Heaven. You must wait. If they are among the elect, they will enter Heaven, even if they have a conversion on their death bed. The atheists and agnostics of today are ready and willing to fight their way into hell. They could care less about the queue. They will push and shove just to be first in line.
And you want to argue with them to turn around?!?! They are blinded by their quest to run in the opposite direction.
But if the Holy Spirit works on their heart, they can become uneasy in their quest. They might start asking questions.
I have one person who is, as they say, “Hell-bent.” They toy with me, asking questions as if they are seeking answers, and then laughing as I jump at the chance to answer the question that they were only using as bait. Here, I am fishing for souls of men, but they have learned a lesson that I had a problem with, even when fishing for fish. You play with the fish. If you quickly start reeling the fish in at the first nibble on the bait, it might jump off the hook. Do not reel in the fish until it has completely swallowed the hook.
So, we wait. We wait for God’s perfect timing. We wait for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. And we pray for the Holy Spirit to do His work. Loving someone who does not know Jesus is hard work. The hardest part of the job is waiting, but you are not doing nothing. You are showing God’s Love in as many ways as possible while you wait.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.