How often do we give up on people because they reject us, or they reject what we stand for as Christians?
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
The large man lay unconscious in the bed, fever spiking, breathing laboured. In the absence of family, I had been asked to sit with him during his last hours. Gazing upon him, knowing that he had no interest in spiritual matters, I wondered about his life, how he had spent his 87 years. What had meaning to him? What were his regrets? What and whom had he loved? I felt a stirring in my spirit to pray and gently laid my hand on his. Then it happened.
As I asked God to show me how to petition during these precious moments, the Spirit of God became powerfully present. This man, despite turning his back on God, was His beloved. I sensed that God had been pursuing this man throughout his 87 years, and He was not about to give up. Aware of his disinterest in spiritual matters, I had given up before entering the room, but God had not! I heard Him whisper to my own spirit, “Even to the last breath I will pursue my beloved…to the very last breath.”
I was prompted to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” out loud, inviting the spirit of the man to accept it if he wished to make it his own. Shortly after, he took his final breath. I do not know if he accepted the Lord in those moments, but I do know that his Creator, who had lovingly pursued him all the days of his life, was still longing for his salvation and for relationship with him even in that final moment. I sensed the longing and the passion in our Lord’s heart.
As Jesus hung dying on the cross between two thieves, one of them recognized who he was and repented. The Lord turned to him and made him a promise, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) The thief may have spent his whole life rejecting the Lord, but as he took his own last breath with Him, he came to salvation.
If our Lord is willing to pursue his beloved men and women right up to their final moment, shouldn’t we? Jesus was mocked, ridiculed and rejected in the worst possible way, yet never gave up on anyone, longing for all to come to repentance. He literally does not want anyone to perish! Not one soul! Such is his great love for each of us.
Is there someone in your life that you have given up on? Is there someone that God wants you to pray for? 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 reminds us of our calling. “ ..God has given us this task of reconciling people to him… he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”.
May this be the motivation behind all that we do and for all whom we encounter on our life journey!
Prayer: Father, forgive me when I give up on people because they have turned their back on you or me, or because I consider them a ‘sinner’. Thank you for your grace, for passionately pursuing me along with the lost and the broken, even to the final breath because of your great love for each of us. Help us as your ambassadors to have the same heart, patience and passion for others as you have. In Jesus Name, Amen.
If you would like to pray the Sinners Prayer, click here.