As a small child my mom would buy nuts in the shell. Nuts have a hard coating on the outside that you don’t eat. The shell protects the inside, but it’s the inside that is delicious. You just have to break the outer shell to get to it. Now growing up we had three methods that always worked for getting the nut out of the shell.
One was a plain hammer. Dad would take a hammer and slowly and gently hammer the nut until the shell broke. It was precise, slow and took a few minutes, but you could eventually get to the nut. Another device was this thing that looked like an A without the line going across. You took the nut put it in the middle close to the top where the two sides came together and then you gently squeezed until the shell broke and you could get to the nut. Finally the last one was a device that had what I call a cup on one end of it. At one end of the cup was a screw type thing with a long handle that you twisted. You put the nut in the cup and then you began to twist the handle and then the shell would get so tight it would break and pop open the nut. It was just as fun to watch the shell get broken as it was to eat the nut. We loved the nuts once we finally got to them. They tasted so good and delicious, but it took precise effort and patience to get to the nut. Many times I would squeeze too hard, hit the hammer to hard too hard, or twist to long and it would crush the nut. I did this a lot until I finally realized you had to be slow and couldn’t rush it no matter how bad you wanted that nut; you had to be careful about how much pressure or twist you applied so you could get the nut out.
So what does this all have to do with anything that makes sense? Well, I am learning it is that way with people. I often times want to beat a person over the head to make them see God is for real and He loves them. I want to apply too much pressure and squeeze them too hard to see that God does exist and He loves them. Finally, I want to twist them into breaking just so they know my God, but it can’t happen that way. God calls us to be persistent in our prayer life for those who aren’t saved. 2 Peter 3:9 says it, this way, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Now I realize God does not promise everyone we love will come to the Lord, but those who He has promised will come to Him, it may be slow, but His patience will last as long as that person is breathing and can make a decision. Just like the nut it is a slow and precise process.
We all have outer shells that (or walls that we build) we use to protect ourselves. I had built walls to keep the hurt out. God had to come along through the prayers of others and tear down the walls. He did it slowly and precise while not damaging the inside of me. He knew the right intensity it would take to break the shell and get to the really good stuff.
I have been praying for some family members. One of them really gives me fits. Satan has a hold on him right now and the grip is getting tighter. There are times I just want to squeeze too hard and not really care if I break the nutty sweetness inside, there are times I want to twist and keep twisting until his shell breaks, and there are times I want to take a hammer and hit him over the head and say, “what are you thinking?” None of those tactics will work. As my mother used to say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. I can lead all I want, but until He is thirsty for God I can’t do too much about it. My job is to keep praying and leading him to God. Maybe one day He will finally take a drink.
Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’ “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”8 Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?” Luke 18:1-8
It’s all about persistent prayer. It’s all about having persistent faith that one day God will help them to see just how thirsty they really are. We all know we can’t force a drunkard into sobriety. He has to come to that decision alone, but we can keep praying that God will open the eyes of those in need. That one day the fog will be lifted and they can see their need for God.
Romans 12:20-21 reminds us, “To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This person often posts things that he knows I will read; sometimes they are hateful things, things that really hurt to the core. I want to turn and run away, but then God reminds me I am to love him and to offer him food, offer him water, and be kind to him. All I can do is pray and offer him the love God has for us. How can I show him God’s love if I have withheld that same love from him? Matthew 5:43-44, ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” I know Satan is pushing my buttons and using this person to test me, to see if I really do want to taste the sweetness of the nut. In the inner part of this nut is sweetness waiting to come out of the hard shell. One day with God’s help the right amount of twist, squeezing and hammering and the shell will break and that which is good will fall out and be good. My part is not to squeeze too hard, twist too much or hammer too long, but to patiently wait with prayer and love.
Are you praying for someone and about ready to give up? Don’t! God did not give up on us and we can’t give up on others. As long as they are breathing and able to make decisions it’s never too late. God always wins. The battle belongs to God; we are in it to fight until He tells us to give up. Someday we might be like the lady in the scripture and we might just be heard and then the victory will belong to the Lord and we can do a victory dance.
Slow, precise and just the right amount of pressure and one day we will taste the sweetness of victory that’s what it is all about.
Dear God: Help me never to give up praying for those who are lost or those who Satan has a hold on. Remind me it’s never too late for them. Be with me as I continue leading them to the Living water. Let their ears be opened to the message of love and forgiveness you have for them, let their hearts yearn for you and not the enemy, and may feel the touch of the Master’s hand as they walk this journey. Amen.