Observe the order that has been repeated through the years. First, there is departure from the Lord. Second, there is an attempt to redeem. Third, the saddest of all, "they would not listen."
Leaving the house of the Lord is rarely, if ever, a sudden, one time event. No, it usually is preceded by a number of steps which slowly and gradually lead one astray. At first, the signs of going away are small and insignificant. There are a series of stops and starts, most of which are unseen by close friends and brethren. Only later, upon reflection, do we recognize the subtle signals that pointed to apostasy and abandonment of faith.
Bringing one back is fraught with tears and fears. Tears of sadness and fears of doing and saying the "wrong" things-these feelings are in the hearts of those who seek to bring them back to the Lord. Those who are sent to "rescue the perishing" often blame themselves if their rescue is not successful. That may be true in some limited cases, but, generally speaking, it is not the fault of the one who is seeking to restore and return the lost to his proper place.
What is the trouble? "They would not listen." That was what pained the prophets. That was the Lord’s lament, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (Jn. 5:40). “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not” (Lk. 13:34).
Resolve now that if you find yourself apart from God that you will not refuse
to hear pleas for penitence. Pray to the Lord that your heart may be ever open
“for reproof, for correction, (and) for instruction in righteousness”
(2 Tim. 3:16).
by Larry Ray Hafley
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