Occasionally, we talk about how hard it is to watch someone we love destroy him/herself. We watch our little brother choose the wrong friends. We watch a friend engage in substance abuse. We see our daughter dating that loser. Our neighbor ending a salvageable marriage because he thinks it will make his life easier and end the hurt and teach her a lesson (it won't).
It's hard to watch. It's like watching someone run in front of an 18-wheeler and refusing your pleas to return to the side of the road, out of danger.
Here's what I have just realized: just having one person in your life like that is heartbreaking. But imagine what it's like for God. He loves each of us more than you or I has ever loved anyone. He watches most of us engage in self-destructive behavior over and over again.
One soul at a time, He implores us to take a path which will lead to life. Some listen, but so many times, He sees us go down another path, one which won't bring us joy, which will only kill us, little by little.
He sends people into our life to speak truth. He practically begs us to choose life. He sends the 2nd person of the Trinity to die in our place, to rescue us. He provides the 3rd person of the Trinity to help us and guide us. Yet He watches, heartbroken, as we choose some other path. It's like watching your favorite child run into the street in front of the aforementioned 18-wheeler. That thought is painful enough, but then multiply that by a few billion.
I cannot imagine what that must feel like, but it seems immeasurably painful. This is what God feels when I sin, especially certain destructive, addictive sins that press certain buttons in me. I feel like crap as I write this, despite the fact that I haven't lately engaged in such sins. But it is bringing up within me a new kind of sorrow about my past sin, a sorrow that I don't remember feeling before. Not that it makes me feel condemned, but I am just so much more sorry for my sin, because it has been so heartbreaking to Him. At the same time, I am all the more thankful that He has somehow rescued me and allowed me to be on the side of the road, out of danger, in His safe arms.
It occurs to me that the analogy of watching someone you love play in the middle of the street in front of an oncoming truck isn't the best analogy. Perhaps an even more appropriate one is to see someone in the middle of a hot desert, someone you love very much. And they are dying of thirst, and you have a cool glass of sparkling, life-giving water that you are trying to hand to them. And they don't take it. They continue to suffer, even as the water is within arm's reach. Instead, they scoop up some sand and try to drink it, sapping even more life from them.
Here's the offer: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” John 7:37–38
This isn't just about salvation. It certainly includes His free gift of salvation which leads to an eternity with Him instead of Hell. But it's much, much more than that. And it isn't just for the lost. It's for all of us, especially those of us who have chosen the wrong path, the one leading to death, at one time or another.