When someone we care about is drowning in addiction, pain, or troubles, we often feel obligated to rush to the recue. Like a lifeguard, we grab a floatation device, jump on a jet ski, and speed off to save the day. The thing is, if we launch out without consulting God, we may miss the fact that He already has a plan in motion. Without realizing it we may set ourselves at cross-purposes to God’s plan; or, in an attempt to save the one drowning we may go under ourselves.
I lived in Phoenix as a teenager (think oodles of swimming pools), and at one point I decided to become a lifeguard. I passed the written test for the required lifesaving class then had to jump in the water to save a “drowning” person. To my horror, the guy I had to “save” was a burly dude who outweighed me by about 75 pounds. He thrashed and struggled (as a drowning person might) until I could no longer keep my head above water. Suddenly I was the one who needed saving!
I never did become a lifeguard.
Get in the stream that’s already moving
Instead of rushing out to implement our plan, we’re meant to get into God’s flow. Philip Yancey said it like this, “When I pray for another person, I am praying for God to open my eyes so that I can see that person as God does, and then enter into the stream of love that God already directs toward that person.” My friends, God’s river of love, mercy, and grace already flows toward those drowning in problems, pain, and sin. Before we rush pell-mell to help, we need to pray that God will open our eyes and give us His perspective.
You’re likely familiar with the story of Lazarus from John chapter eleven. When Lazarus falls ill, his sisters send word to Jesus saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (John 11:3). Instead of dashing off to Bethany to rescue his friend, Jesus waited. Neither the disciples nor Lazarus’ sisters understood the reason for the delay, even though Jesus clearly explained that what happened next would be for the glory of God (John 11:4).
God’s plans are grace-filled, but they are also deliberate, methodical, and patient.
How to get into the flow
It’s one thing to say, “step into the stream of God’s love that’s already flowing” but practically speaking, how do you do that?
- Talk to God. Repent for thinking you are someone’s savior. Then pray that He will show you how He sees the one in need.
- Listen. Prayer isn’t about getting Him to hear your plan, it’s about getting quiet enough to hear His plan.
- When you have a sense of what He’s already doing, ask if, where, how, and when you’re meant to fit in.
Let Him solve the problem
If God’s stream of love carries you toward the one in need, it’s important to be a servant and let Him do the saving. Jesus’ final words on the cross were “It is finished” (John 19:30). If He finished His work on the cross, won’t He also finish His work in you, and in the ones you love?
My job is not to solve people’s problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives.Eugene H. Peterson
Be exalted [in majesty], O God, above the heavens,Psalm 108:5-6*
And Your glory above all the earth.
That Your beloved [ones] may be rescued,
Save with Your right hand, and answer me!
*Amplified Bible Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation
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