Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Returning Stronger to Strengthen

"I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:32

My heart overflows with thankfulness when I read that verse.  Jesus prays for us.  Simon wasn't just a one-time case.  Romans 8:34 tells us that Jesus sits at the right hand of God interceding for all the saints.  I'm part of that "all".

That needs a Selah moment.  A pause.  Jesus prays for me.  Jesus prays for you.  The Son of God knows us by name, knows exactly what to pray and how to pray and He is remembering us.  I could stop writing right there.  It's almost too much for my heart to comprehend.  But there's more.

He prays that our faith will not fail.  What might that involve?  Praying we will remain strong.  Praying that we will hold on to truth and not waver.  Praying that when tempted we will resist.  Praying we will overcome doubt.  Praying that when we are placed in the pressure-cooker of life we will not abandon, walk away, regret or deny our relationship with Him.

It's the next phrase of the verse that silently speaks volumes.  "And when you have turned back..."  WHAT?  Turned back?  That statement assumes a turning away.  You mean even with Jesus praying for me my faith will fail?  The Lord knows we will stray, even though He prays.

I can't tell you how much this verse has spoken to me over the past year.  I made some faith failing choices.  When I had opportunity to take a stand, I remained silent.  When I should have said 'no', I participated. When His Spirit was giving clear direction I ignored His prompting.  I was too concerned about satisfying my own desires.  Often now my mind returns to Romans 6:21, "What benefit did you get from doing those things which you are now ashamed of?"

"When you have turned back" also presumes a welcoming back. Repentance offered.  Forgiveness given.  Relationship restored.  Acceptance received.  And then the commission, "strengthen your brothers".

You might ask, how can we strengthen others by our failing faith? Weakness speaks louder than perfection.  Share your story.  Let others learn from your mistakes.  Be vulnerable. Reveal the subtleties of Satan that lured you away. Open up God's Word.  What was the turning point, both the one that led you astray and the one that called you back?  You have returned stronger from the lessons learned. Don't waste your wandering.

Simon was not the first disciple who faltered in his faith, and he won't be the last.  Let's encourage one another by sharing what the Lord has taught us through times of faith failure.  God may use each story to help another avoid the same mistake, and when a similar temptation faces us again may the Lord's prayers for us strengthen our resolve for obedience.

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1 comment:

Cheri Bunch said...

So well said, dear Joy! Thank you! Your words bring hope and life, they encourage, they strengthen. I am so thankful for you! Thank you for using the beautiful gift the Lord has given you!