Thursday, August 21, 2014

Past the Point of No Return

“Someone still stubborn after much reproof will suddenly be broken past mending.” Prov. 29:1 (REB)

"Some people (most people?) seem to imagine that you can keep on abusing and abusing (your body, your credit limit, your relationship to others, your relationship to God, your conscience….) and it’s still OK because you can always recover if and when you want to, even if it’s at the last minute. Changing your mind, changing your ways and thus changing your future is always out there as an option, an option you can exercise whenever you want, on your timetable, and on your terms.

"Reality check: sometimes, that is simply not true. Your body can only take so much, at some point it is virtually impossible to climb out of a certain amount of debt, trust lost through habitual deception, or love and affection that has been vandalized by years of emotional abuse, the stirrings of conscience that have tried so long to pull you back, and the Spirit speaking his convicting Word to a heart that just gets harder and harder – according to Scripture and the life stories of millions and millions of people, at some point you cross the line, at some point you plunge on past the point of return. It’s just reality. It’s the way the world works. It’s how we, and the world we inhabit, are built.

"Of course God is amazingly gracious – the parable of the prodigal son shouts the father’s invitation to come home across the years and across the miles. But it is possible for our wandering and abusing and wasting, and our vandalizing of all the good God has given us, to go so far that WE are the ones who trudge stubbornly past the point of no return, having ignored and refused (and even been ‘righteously indignant about’!) a thousand warnings and reproofs (from people, circumstances, providences) until that terrible day arrives, catching us entirely off guard, when the crushing brokenness breaks in, and there’s just no possibility of repair or recovery (Prov. 29:1).

Consider just a small sample of Scripture passages that all tell this same story: Luke 16:19-31 (and esp. vv. 23-26); Romans 2:4-9; Hebrews 10:26-27; Hebrews 13:15-17; Revelation 22:14-15

"No wonder the apostle Paul expressed this heartfelt warning: '…we beg you who have received God's grace NOT TO LET IT BE WASTED. Hear what God says:

‘When the time came for me to show you favor,
I heard you;
when the day arrived for me to save you,
I helped you.”
Listen! THIS is the hour to receive God's favor; TODAY is the day to be saved!’” (2 Cor. 6:1-2)

-- Jon G. Baldwin

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