Herbs & Things

Herbs & Things
Herbs & Things

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Pursuing the Hearts of the People God Loves

I find that God often tasks me with the most difficult people in life. And while I have succeeded many times, I have failed equally as many. Apparently my job on this earth is to be patient—I have often been told my patience is quite amazing by my husband, friends, and mother. And yet, in the past few months, I feel like I've had little patience at all. In fact, a co-worker often tells me how little patience I have. So much so, that I think I allowed it to sink in and become part of my identity. 

The truth is, I love people. I might often joke about how I dislike people, but when it comes down to it, I love the heck out of them. Sure, I'm like any other human being. I don't have the time for mindless non-sense. But I'm a social person. Over the years I haven't been able to be as social as I'd like to be, but believe it or not, I love being around people.

This past month has been a trying time for me (the past two months, really). With work, home, more work, trying to keep up with friendships and family—I have been trudging through life, dragging my feet. Just barely "getting it done" has been my norm. I just want to get through the days, so that I can have the evening back to myself, my child, my husband. 

I feel like I have zero hours in the day to get everything accomplished. 

But this week, God has been pursuing me. I can feel Him drawing me closer, softly speaking "draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you." And He has constantly reminded me of a story in my own life that is still unfolding right before my eyes.

A few years ago I met this girl, who is a local homesteading friend. She's an awesome girl, and someone who I love and cherish. She's a friend who I could go days and weeks without talking to, yet pick right back up where we left off when we see or talk to each other. There are no expectations in our friendship. We are equally busy with life, a child, family, work, and what little time we get with the ones we love. But when we talk, we could talk for forever. 

She has taught me more than she will ever realize about the love of Christ. And when we first met, she wasn't even a Christian.

When we first became acquainted, I think we can both say we never would have thought we would be where we are today in our friendship. We met on the wonderful world of social media through a mutual friend. Our heads had been filled with so much jibberish from this mutual friend, that we only saw what that person saw in each of us. And that person was a hateful, bitter, unhappy person. You can normally tell who those people are—the ones who literally cannot hold a conversation without tearing someone down or speaking badly about someone.

In my head, my soon-to-be friend was equally as bitter, I had a false perception of who she was, and the same went for her judgement of me. But God kept poking at my heart and telling me "don't give up yet, it's not what you think."

A few weeks passed and I felt God calling me to pursue this girl's heart. I didn't want anymore friends. I couldn't even keep up with the friends I had! In fact, I didn't even know how to pursue this girls heart. She came from a totally different culture than I did, and quite honestly, that scared the heck out of me. I didn't know how to be a living witness of Christ to her when she came from a religion so against Christ. And very quickly I could feel the Holy Spirit say, just be you, nothing more, nothing less.

I knew God wanted me to pursue her, because He was pursuing her. 

I fully understand that God doesn't need our help to accomplish anything. However, I truly believe He works for the mutual benefit of those who love Him, and those whom He loves. 

And so, I pursued her, and a few short weeks later, we were kindred spirits. I became her friend, and more importantly, she became mine. True friendships, based on just loving each other and being there for one another. 

I had an honest interest in her culture and life, and what we quickly discovered is that we had a lot in common outside of religion. My heart often hurt thinking of how some other Christians may have treated her had they of come into contact with her and their legalistic thinking. I was thankful that I had her attention and I could show her the true and living God. 

Months went by, maybe even a year, and one morning I awoke to a message saying "can you tell me more about Christianity?"

Here it was. This is what the goal of our relationship had always been, that somehow got lost in the midst of friendship. But it was the right time. And so, for the next few months, we talked about Christ. I was open, I wasn't pushy, I was happy to answer questions. I was raw and real. But the one thing that blessed my heart more than anything was when she said to me, 

"I know you're going to be honest with me because you care about me, whether I'm a Christian, Hindu, Muslim, or no religion at all."


And then it hit me. 

My Lord, I have been doing this all wrong. 

Don't get me wrong, there's a place for what I like to call "fast-food" salvation. Those meetings and church services you go to where they have a salvation call and everyone comes running up but half of them never take their salvation status seriously? That's another topic for another day. 

This was different.

This was a year long (or more) investment into a soul that was going to impact lives for Christ.

This was an investment into a person who had been so hurt by legalistic religion that she was terrified to contemplate any other religion.

This was an investment into a person who, should she still be in the native country of her parents and converted to Christianity, she could lose everything that is precious to her. In fact, as it stands now, she still could...

But when she said, I know you love me as a friend no matter what religion I am....

My world stopped. 

I cried. I'm not going to lie. I've never told her this. But I cried my eyes out. I dropped down to my knees and I whispered under my breath....this wasn't just about her, it was about me.

You see, I get the hell, fire, and brimstone. I get the "turn or burn". I understand the whole "invite your friends to church every single Sunday until you get on their nerves". 

I get it when Pastors corner people at Walmart and ask them if they believe in Jesus. 

I get it when Christians get upset because the world is a gigantic pit of sin. 

I'm not condoning sin. I'm not even telling you to tolerate it. But there's something to say about judging believers and judging non-belivers. In fact, the Bible says not to judge non-believers, but to be a living witness to them. (1 Cor. 5:12)

But more than anything, that day, I finally understood what the love of Christ was. It wasn't a Christian who taught me....but a sinner. It wasn't a Christian who made me look inside and examine my heart, it was someone who great up without Christ. It was an "outcast". It was someone that we, in the American church, would fear because their religion is "different".

How soon we forget that only a few thousand years ago, people didn't come to Christ because He was outspoken and full of rage for his beliefs. They came to Him, and believed in Him, because he was normal and down to earth—because He was a friend. Because He respected people, rather than wishing to be respected.

There are countless amounts of scriptures where Jesus asked His followers not to tell anyone about Him, because His work wasn't done yet. To be quiet, and only share with their friends.

Do you know what? Jesus invested into those people. He took the time to sit down, one on one. Not at a pulpit, not throwing out His beliefs all over social media—but on the ground, eye to eye. Dirt to dirt, knee to knee. He was a teacher, but He was a friend. He was a Master, but He first came to serve. 

And most of all, people came because He cared for them. 

Listen, I get it. There were certainly instances where Jesus was out spoken and we should be too—we forget He flipped over tables once before in holy rage. And we also forget that He called people out of their sin. But He didn't do that to everyone because that simply wasn't the state of each person's heart. More importantly, He showed them how to live. He didn't just speak it. He lived it.

There is no one single right way into minister into someone's life. But there are plenty of wrong ways. And that's where we have to heed to the Holy Spirit, and trust that He knows which believers to send along a non-believers path. And you must understand how to minister efficiently to that person. Nine times out of ten, they aren't going to think you truly care about them by telling them all of their faults at once, being legalistic, and telling them all the rules they have to play by, otherwise they are going to hell.

But you know what will get them? 

Pursuing their hearts, because God pursues after them. God doesn't "need" us, but He uses us. Because it is far easier for someone to connect with a person—one on one—than it is for them to connect with God one on one, when they have never had a Christ-like example in their lives. 

Here we are, just this past week, and she is finally ready to take the next step into full on Christianity. But the best part? She's not doing it because she has to. She's not doing it because she has been talked into it. 

She's doing it, because she wants to. Because whether she realizes it or not, she has become a new creation in Christ.

When I asked her how she was feeling she said, "I can't explain it, but it's the most amazing thing I've ever felt in my entire life." 

I would like to think that our friendship opened that door wide open, but I know that it has been multiple friendships in her life that have lead her to this point. Yes, even the bad ones...the bad life choices...the bad life experiences. And I am so truly grateful that God placed other people along her pathway to help launch her into a relationship with Him. 

In all other religions, followers prepare a table for their God. 

But in Christianity, God prepares a table for those who love Him.

Her salvation didn't happen in a day. There was no quick light switch that came on and suddenly changed her mind. Her salvation might have taken years, but I guarantee you this, it will last a lifetime.

Stop hyping people up on fear and adrenaline and start investing into their lives. 

I encourage you to pursue those people in your life that you wouldn't necessarily think about. I encourage you to examine your own heart today and see if there are things you need to change. I encourage you to see that "friend", understand their need, ask God how to help, and then just be a friend to them. 

Pursue the hearts of the people God loves. I promise you, you won't regret it.

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