SOUL SHEPHERDS – PART ONE

All credit for Truth contained herein belongs to YHVH/God, King of the Universe

Any and all errors contained herein are the sole responsibility of Jacquetta L, totally imperfect servant of the Most High

Prayer time difficulties.  Do you ever encounter them? Or is it just me?  Do you ever experience times that you simply do not know how to pray for someone you love?  You know that they desperately need God to move in their lives, and yet you find yourself repeating the same requests again and again.  You wonder if perhaps you would just pray harder, be more fervent in prayer, and maintain unwavering faith, you would finally see the changes you so desire to see. After all, Scripture promises that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Below is a scenario which, I am sorry to say, has been known to play out at my house from time to time. Perhaps it will sound familiar to you also.

My heart has become heavy for someone I love.  I may have seen, heard, or just sensed in my spirit that something is drawing them away from the Master and His plan for their life. My heart is grieved, and so  I pray and I pray and I PRAY!  But instead of the situation improving in my loved one’s life, it gets worse! MUCH worse!  Everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Their house, car, job, marriage, and other relationships, all become sources of pain and distress, while it seems that Yahweh/God remains silent and inactive. Why isn’t He answering? Surely I must not have prayed long enough or fervently enough or with enough faith! And now it appears that time is running out, and the one I love is sinking deeper and deeper into pain and despair! (See Exodus 5 for a strikingly similar story.)

They are almost to the breaking point and still He remains silent! Well, if HE won’t act, surely I MUST! Something must be done to relieve the stress! Otherwise, I fear the outcome! After all, I LOVE them and how much more of this can they take?

So I rush to the rescue!  I am there for them emotionally, offering comfort and encouragement. I am there to help with what I am able to, both physically and financially. Yes, I am there for them. I have stepped in to demonstrate love, and to offer protection from further pain and distress. The stress is relieved. All is bliss.

It sounds oh-so-righteous, doesn’t it?  But have I loved them?  Have I protected them??  Are they truly better off now?  Selah (pause and think about that).

It is only later, (sometimes MUCH later), that the answers break through to my heart. And I am undone. The assistance I have given did NOT  help, was NOT loving, and it was most decisively NOT protective! In fact, the stresses I relieved are now ramping up again! 

What I had perceived as silence from Yahweh, was not silence at all. It was an answer. What I had interpreted as inactivity on the part of the Most High, was NOT inactivity, but instead purposeful withdrawal, designed to accomplish the very best in my loved one’s life! No, He had not been silent, nor had He been inactive; I had just failed to recognize His hand.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isa 55:8-9

Indeed, His thoughts are not my thoughts. I had  not seen the answer I expected, and therefore, to me it seemed as though He had chosen either inactivity or deafness, or possibly even both!  Surely the rescue should be coming in the form of money, or relationship help, or job security. And yet, no help in these areas materialized. In fact, the situation got decisively worse and the stress level skyrocketed!

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Mat 7:7-8

In the above verses, Yahweh assures us that if we ask, seek, and knock, we will receive, find, and have opened to us. I had done these things on behalf of my loved one but it appeared as though what they had received in response was bad and not good. Let’s investigate further as we continue in Matthew 7.

9  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Is He assuring us that whatever He gives us in answer to our prayer is not a stone or a serpent but a good gift even though to our thoughts (which are not His thoughts), it may appear otherwise?  After all, Yahweh/GOD is NOT simply a good father; He is the BEST Father, and our example!

Could it be that, while I was feeling sorry for my loved one, and trying to relieve the stress, He was the One SENDING the stress as part of His plan to turn them back to the right path?!  (Remember, I had noted that I saw them moving away from Yahweh. But I had mistaken the stress for something bad, when in fact, it may have been good!) As a matter of fact, it would seem that the stress was being sent in answer to my prayer, while I was busy short circuiting the process for which I had begged!  Really!  I was! (Sigh). Let’s continue in Matthew 7.  

12  Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Okay, so I can see by the above verse,  that I am to do for my loved ones the things that I most want for myself.  Hmmm. What IS my most ultimate desire for myself when I have wandered away? Selah.

At times that I  wander far away from My Master and the Lover of my Soul, and His righteous path for my life, do I really WANT someone to make that wrong path comfortable with no stress or pain in my way? Is that what I would want HIM to do on my behalf?  Is that what I want others to pray for on my behalf? NO!! If the wrong path were to remain comfortable and stress free, wouldn’t I be prone to stay on it?  NO! I most certainly do NOT want to stay on the wrong path which leads to destruction! I want the opportunity given to Balaam, with the Most High placing the Angel of the Lord with drawn sword in my path and causing stubborn donkeys to refuse to continue carrying me along that road! (see Numbers 22)  I want Him to cause me to be thrust into walls in order to keep me away from the path that leads to destruction! I want Him to cause me great DISCOMFORT when I am on the wrong course!

And for what do I want my loved ones to pray on my behalf during these times?  I would cherish their prayers that my eyes be opened and I see the Angel of the Lord directing me back into safety. PLEASE don’t rescue me from discomfort when I am headed away from the Most High, even if I should beg! Just pray me through it!  Please take a lesson from Balaam’s donkey and refuse to transport me along the road to destruction!

Mt 7:13  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Here is the Strong’s definition for the word translated as “strait

sten-os’           Probably from the base of G2476; narrow (from obstacles standing close about): – strait.

Do you see that?  The strait gate is narrowed by obstacles!

Let’s compare with the word translated as “broad” because this “broad” path is the WRONG path!

yoo-roo’-kho-ros    From εὐρύς eurus (wide) and G5561; spacious: – broad.

There it is.  Broad means, well…broad!  It is the road NOT narrowed by obstacles. It is the EASY, COMFORTABLE road. It is easy to find because it is broad. It is easy to stay on because there is nothing blocking our way. And MANY there be that find it.

So, while the Most Gracious Father was indeed answering my prayers by placing obstacles in my loved one’s path, meant to give opportunity for them to turn back to the narrow way, I was busy removing those obstacles one after the other so they could remain on the wide and comfortable path to Hades. OY!  

As Isaiah lamented in Isa 6:5, Woe is me. I am undone! I “rescued” them from the very answer to my prayer!  And in the process I ensured that they will get to repeat all the stress and pain again and again (and more and more intense), as long as I rescue them. Why? Because He LOVES them and desires that no man should perish! Is it really my desire that they need to repeat the same stresses again and again? Is this love? NO and NO!!!

Putting it all together, this is what often transpires as we beg for mercy (or what we perceive as mercy) for those we love.

Yahweh/GOD answers! And like any good father, our Heavenly Father desires to make our wrong road extremely uncomfortable. Therefore, in answer to our prayer, He exerts pressure designed to bring our loved ones back to Him. But then, as we see them in pain and distress (the answer to our prayer), we jump in and rescue them from it!  Yes! We rescue them from the very answer to our own prayer!  We asked Him to bring our son, our daughter, our spouse, our sibling, our friend, back to Him. And then He orchestrates great pressure in their lives designed to provide opportunity and motivation for them to consider their ways, and to provoke them to reach up to Him. But instead of being encouraged as we see Him work in their lives, we beg Him to take the pressure away! And it is actually worse than that, for in the process of trying to “give support and/or rescue,” we unwittingly teach them to reach out to us instead of up to Him.

Perhaps you recall that earlier we had stepped in because, in our estimation, our loved ones were “at the breaking point?”   Oy! They WERE at the breaking point!  They were right where He wanted them! They were there ,at the place in their journey that they were about to come to the end of themselves and the end of looking for any human rescue! Just a bit longer and they would have begun to wonder if they had taken a wrong turn. Perhaps a little more stress, and they would have been ready to turn to the Only One Who could help them by showing them what was really wrong! But then – WE stepped in and stopped the process!

Oh friends, we are so short sighted!  We may have rescued them in the far less important physical here-and-now realm, but in the process, we helped pay their tolls, purchased their gas, and even secured nice comfy hotel rooms on their road to eternal destruction! Now it will, in all likelihood, be necessary for them to travel that perilous road again, in order to reach the all important breaking point once more. Maybe then  they will be motivated to reach for the Only One Who can put them back on the narrow path which leads to Life and that abundantly!

Perhaps we should pause and honestly consider the following questions:

What, after all, do we really want most?  Is it physical and emotional comfort that is most important to us? Or is it the sincere and fervent desire of our hearts,that spiritual gain, and return to right relationship with the Great I Am be the outcome?

Do our oh-so-desperately-wicked hearts overflow with joy as our loved ones tearfully thank us for rescuing them? Is this at least part of our ill conceived motivation?

Do we love them enough to allow them to experience difficulties (even great difficulties) without our rescue, so that they have opportunity for this growth?

Do we love them enough that we will endure their disappointment, hurt, and possibly even anger directed towards us if we stop intervening? Will we allow the Mighty Warrior to fight on their behalf without our interference? Selah (pause and think about that).

These are no light questions! As we spend time over the next few days selah-ing and holding an honest mirror to our own hearts, may we also spend time thanking the Ancient of Days for those times when, out of His great grace and mercy, He gave us not what we wanted, but what we needed!

See you back for Soul Shepherds Part Two, where we will ask the Good Shepherd to show us how to pray for lost sheep.

In the meantime, as we purpose to endure the discomfort of soul searching, may we experience the continuing miracle of the renewing of our minds!

Shalom shalom,

Jacquetta