Close by the church is a house with a brother and three sisters. The Lord has allowed me to have a strong influence upon their lives through Bible stories, reading help, and church services that they would attend regularly.
A few weeks ago I finished teaching a class at the Bible College and came to visit them (hadn’t been by a lot during the class). They weren’t able to come out, which wasn’t too surprising, since we are under stronger safety protocols as a result of the COVID pandemic.
Sadly I haven’t been able to reconnect them since getting back….
It isn’t because I’m not trying
But because they no longer have an interest in me.
This actually isn’t a new thing. I learned a long time ago that as young people get older they feel as if they’re too “cool” to listen to bible stories, or spend time with me. This is actually a natural thing as the teenage years approach. I’ve learned to emphasise ministry in a Childs life before the turn twelve.
The Lord through this experience reminded me of a very important lesson…your time of influence is limited.
Satan loves to tell us that we have “plenty of time”
- You have plenty of time to share the Gospel
- You have plenty of time to get that friend into church
- You have plenty of time to reconcile that relationship with a brother or sister in christ
- You have plenty of time to train or disciple that child
- You have plenty of time to do that work for God
Of course he knows thats just no true
Yes there may be time for us to do those things, however the window of opportunity that God provides is limited.
The Lord brings seasons into life when our hearts are “tender” or open to His work. This can be because of age, experiences, or a special work of the Lord in our lives. It is when the heart is tender that ministry is most effective.
Because of this the devil wants to “harden” the tender heart by any means necesary. It can begin by something small, but soon that individual who loved to hear about the Lord has no interest in Him.
Our response to this is simple…..
Minister while their hearts are tender
And walk away if their hearts are hard 1.
It is tempting to focus our energy on that hard heart, particularly if there is a strong relationship there. Yet often God orchestrates this as other hearts are tender or open towards the Gospel while those have been hardened. It is far more effective to join with the Lord by ministering to those He is working on.
It was sad to walk away from a house where children used to run out at the sound of my voice, but now they just stay inside. Yet I rest in the fact that God is the one who softens hardened hearts.
It is not my job to change people…it is my job to proclaim Gods truth to those who are willing to listen.
- There are situations of course when the Lord wants us to continue ministering to someone whose heart is hard. ↩