Occasionally in life, someone whom you care about is faced with a dire decision. To you, it is obvious what they should do and it is the opposite of what it appears they intend to do. Sometimes it is what they ARE doing and they need to stop and change direction. The Bible calls this repentance. It is annoying or better yet, frustrating.
You see, the person who needs to repent does not agree they need to repent. I have been vaguely aware that others were dissatisfied with my level of apparent repentance in a past decade. Their faces betrayed their frustration. I remember thinking, “I don’t know what you want from me but I can’t do it yet.” If ever.
On the other side, we say “You stupid jerk! Can’t you see that you are causing pain to other people? Don’t you care? You should care!” But we can’t make them care. We can’t make them be unselfish. “Here! Read this book! If you read it, you will repent for sure! Listen to this message, attend this conference, watch this video…” None of it works. It’s frustrating and painful. It hurts.
Our final hope is God. If God can’t or won’t get through to them then there is no other. God sits there silently, watching, doing nothing. Come on God! You can scare them or shake them or blast them or twist them and you can surely convict them! Do something! Aren’t you going to do something? No? Why not?
Two reasons. One is free will. He loves free will because without it, there is no relationship. You can’t have a healthy relationship without free will and God especially loves relationship. Second is time. God moves in often slow, powerful and perfect ways. The emphasis here is on slow. We want a microwave God and we get a crock pot God. It smells good in the crock pot but you don’t get to eat it until hours later. So we are constantly asking Him, “Is it done yet?”
I bet free will bugs God sometimes or at least it bothers Him that it bugs us. We love the stuff when we get to use it and hate it when others do. God says, “You let Me worry about those other people. I know what I am doing. You focus on you and Me. That’s all that matters in the long run.”
The long run. The destination is still out there and there is more running to do. In the meantime we have to put up with unrepentant free will in other people. Oh, and they have to put up with us.
Matthew 23 37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (NASB)