Rebekah L’s post on temporary assignments resonated with me. I have several close friends who are atheist/agnostic, and sometimes I feel called to witness to them. Other times I feel like I need to let it go, at least for now – a sort of “don’t cast your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6) thing. If I was taking one step forward and two steps back every time I tried to talk about God, I was helping nobody and doing more harm than good. Time to give it up.
I was at this point with my friend Chris. Chris has a lot of anger and hate and resentment in him from his life, and he surrounds himself with heavy metal music that is all about darkness and death. When I am with him, the darkness around him is so deep it’s almost tangible. It is heartbreaking to me. He hates Christians and Christianity – he’s ignorant about it though. He calls all Christians “Catholics”. But it’s not ignorance due to pure ignorance. Once it was. Now he knows better but holds onto the ignorant things because he thinks it’s more insulting that way. He is so clearly surrounded by demonic presence; I don’t always have great discernment on such things but even I can tell this much. And yet his soul has so much pain in it, there’s a huge void in his heart that’s just crying out to be filled. And I know what can fill it. So I’ve witnessed to him. I’ve prayed for him. I’ve interceded for him. Once I even made a chip in that wall of his. But by the next day, the chip had been repaired with a dark wall twice as thick. Yet in spite of all this, he is a nice person, and a good person. Just stubborn when it comes to spirituality.
After several years of banging my head against the proverbial wall on his behalf, and finding him more and more closed off every time, I stopped. I wrote him off. I figured this was just not meant to happen and I couldn’t save everyone. I wanted to. So badly. But I couldn’t. So I stopped trying. And I saw Rebekah L’s post about temporary assignments and took it as confirmation that I’d done right.
Then God gave me a vision of sorts. It was a reminder of how much pain Chris is in daily – physically, emotionally and spirituallly. It’s pain I’m aware of and it breaks my heart. Then He showed me a glimpse of how much worse the pain will be, for all eternity, if Chris isn’t saved. Basically, He gave me a glimpse of hell.
For starters, there was physical pain. Maybe this is where the fire idea comes from. As far as I know the Bible only mentions fire once regarding hell. But anyway, Jesus conquered sin and the flesh. Without Jesus, sin stays rampant in us, and sin is slave to flesh. And so flesh remains. And it hurts. Desires of the flesh remain – hunger and thirst. Never satisfied or quenched. And spiritually, the soul is there. Crying out for what it wanted in life – love and peace. But it’s cut off from those things. And it’s dark. And lonely. And there’s no reprieve, not ever. And as I glimpsed it I knew I wasn’t seeing the worst of it. I was seeing the worst of what I could imagine. But the worst of what it truly is goes beyond my ability to grasp. And I was reminded that this awaits my friend, my friend, if I were knowingly to walk away now.
Don’t get me wrong. Our assignments are not permanent. Rebekah L is right. We’re assigned to jobs and tasks, not careers. But for me, God told me this particular one isn’t over yet. It’s not my time to walk away just because I’m tired and frustrated. Eternity goes beyond me. So I won’t. I can’t. I’ll keep praying, and interceding, and fighting for him. I’ll witness to his face, and pray behind his back if I have to.
I praise Jesus for this reminder – we all need a little kick sometimes, don’t we?? And if any of you have a similar situation – someone you’re praying hard for, or anything that seems futile and frustrating and you can’t quite break through it – comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can stand in prayer together!
In His love,