“Imagine there are two circles,” our pastor said, tracing invisible circles on the floor of the stage.
“One circle is where God wants you to be,” he explained. “The other is where you tend to be.”
His demonstration caused me to think of codependency. One of my problems in relationships has been me trying to drag people (especially family members) out of the circle they tended to be in–which included a sinful lifestyle or an apathy toward God–to the circle called, “Where God wants you to be.”
At that moment I saw how futile those efforts were. Even my efforts to drag myself from one circle to the other had failed.
When I’ve been trapped into doing this, I wasn’t depending on the Holy Spirit and God’s grace to do the work in other people’s lives—or even my own. When I felt God wasn’t doing something, I tried to do it for Him. If I prayed a family member would change, and time passed with nothing major happening, I would take matters into my own hands and devise a plan or a scheme (mostly on a subconscious level) to try to get them to change.
My plans to get others to change—to move to that God circle—have included lectures or sermons, often with many Bible verses included. Or I would resort to pleas for them to read a book that I was certain would transform their thinking and their lives. Also there have been countless attempts to drag them to church or religious seminars. Sometimes they’d go along just to get me to keep quiet.
As I’ve been convicted that these practices are just as sinful as the sins my loved ones are caught in, this thought has come to mind: “Pray more than you say.”
God does not want me to ignore people’s sin or refuse to help them to overcome it, but I am to let prayer lead the way. In Galatians 6:1—the verse right before the one that says to carry each other’s burdens—I am told:
“…if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently…”
When I see the word restore, I think of Psalm 23:2-3 where it says,
“He leads me beside quiet waters; he restores my soul.” NIV
So who is to be doing the restoring? Is it me or Jesus? When I looked it up in the Concordance, I saw that the word “restore” in Psalm 23 means “to turn back” while the word “restore” in Galatians 1 means “to complete thoroughly, ie repair or adjust, mend.”
As I meditate on these two verses I see that Jesus is the one who can turn people back to Himself, but the person I am to reach out to with the idea of restoring is the one that is aware of his sin and has a desire to deal with it. This person wants to overcome sin and has even come to me asking me how to do it. That is a different group than the ones I tend to go for—those who deny their behavior is sin.
I am through with trying to drag people from where they are to where I think God wants them to be. What freedom there is in that. Now I have more time to ask God for help to deal with my own waywardness.
Is there someone in your life that you keep trying to drag to where you think God wants them to be? Are You willing to give them back to the Lord, so He can restore their soul?