"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold..." Matthew 24:12
Jesus isn't simply foretelling an unknown future, He's describing one He knows full well. The love of most will grow cold. Weeds will choke out good seed. The enemy will steal others. Sin will strangle. People's hearts will/do turn away from Him. I think of those who started with the same fire I had when we were just starting out on this great adventure of faith, this pilgrimage with Jesus. We couldn't get enough back then, like baby birds in a nest, our spiritual mouths were wide open for the food of Him who served us. Fish and loaves, you betcha. Milk and honey? bring it on. The bread of life and the living water? More, more, more, said the babies.
But we left that nest. And more have lost their appetites for His gospel than I like to admit. The fervor gone, the fire died out. However you want to say it, there are plenty in my life who no longer serve Him. Yes, there are also many who do. But tonight I'm thinking of those who have walked away. I remember the first time I encountered these passages in the gospels where Jesus warned that some would fall away. I would look around at a Bible study of my closest beloved friends and think, "Ah, but we're different. That won't happen to any of us." But it has. Some people who walked beside me, who taught me and served with me and were disciples with me in my fledgling years are now no longer walking with Christ.
I don't want their cold hearts to be the last word. I'm thankful that the story isn't over for these beloveds in my life, and pray there is time left for each of them. Turn around, I think. Turn around. Don't you remember? It wasn't mere childishness, which the enemy would have you believe now, but Truth simple enough for a child. Uncomplicated. Christ is who He says He is.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has people in my life like this. Old Youth Group friends who 'put away childish things', but have made a kind of goulash of their lives without Him, if they were willing to admit it. People we work with who have confessed they used to be "quite religious," but fell away for one reason or another--the pain of life made them doubt that God cares. And maybe you're better than I am at continuing to pray for those people who once or still populate your life. But it's the responsibility of the few to pray for the cold hearts of the many. I admit I could be better at this kind of praying. I get so caught up in what's been called 'the tyranny of the urgent', where I primarily pray for what is up-close and personal. So I'm going to start tonight by praying for just one of those old friends. Just one--a woman who has been on my heart since she wrote after Mom died. Her name is Peggy. I'll let you know how it goes.
But here's what always encourages me. It took 20 years of praying daily for my father before he came to Christ. And in the middle of that time I sometimes thought it'd never happen. Couldn't imagine how it would. Or that my mom would as well. And now they're setting up house in a mansion prepared for them by Jesus. I hang on to that as I pray for people to come to or return to Him. And all those theological questions about whether a person is 'once saved always saved' or can lose their salvation, I'll leave to people who want to argue. For me, I'd rather just pray. And since I KNOW that salvation is always in line with His will, I can pray with confidence for my beloveds, even those long-ago beloveds.
So please, God, begin the warm up with my friend Peggy's heart.
Who will you pray for?