On a cold rainy day, while my father and I were walking my German shepherd, Sarge, in the park, we found a wounded parakeet and gently carried it home. The poor bird had been so traumatized, however, that it avoided human contact and drew back every time we tried to pet it. The more we attempted to help and comfort the bird, the more it tried to distance itself from us.
Some people have been so traumatized by their life experiences that they refuse to allow others to get close to them, even those who love them.
They shrink back in fear or lash out in anger when anyone comes too close.
A wonderful Christian woman stated, "The more I treat my sister with respect and demonstrate God's love to her, the angrier she gets. I just don't understand why she reacts that way."
"I keep trying to show kindness to my coworker," one man commented to me. "But, he responds as if I were mistreating him. What else can I do?"
Continue to show Christ's love to the person from a distance. Don't force yourself on the person or pressure him to let down his guard. God knows what the individual has been through. A previous unpleasant experience with someone who claimed to be a Christian may have soured the person on Christianity and believers, or the person may have previously attended a church and been hurt.
On the other hand, the Holy Spirit may be convicting the individual. Every time the person sees you, the Holy Spirit nudges him or her to stop running away from God and turn to Jesus for forgiveness. This can be especially true if the person at one time served the Lord and, for whatever reason, drifted and turned his back on the truth.
Continue to pray for the person. Sometimes when God is at work within the person's heart, and the enemy is violently pulling the person in the opposite direction, the person's outward behavior actually becomes worse as the struggle within him intensifies. We cannot make the right choice for someone else. If you treat the person with kindness and respect, and the individual lashes out at you in bitterness and resentment for no apparent reason, ask the Lord to help you to remain calm and to not take the person's angry outbursts personally. Pray for wisdom in all your dealings with the person.
Some people insist on managing their lives the way they please, and they turn to God only when they run out of resources and feel they have nowhere else to turn. This is often the case with an alcoholic. No matter how much we may want to intervene, only the individual can determine when he or she is ready to admit failure and sin, and then accept God's forgiveness and willingly submit to His leadership.
In times of discouragement, when you wonder if the person will ever turn to the Lord, remember that God's Spirit is at work, and He wants the person to accept Christ even more than you do.
"The Lord is . . . not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV).
© by Howard W. Stevens