I had a vision of a living prayer chain. First the background: dear friends were telling me about a situation very much like one going on in our own lives. Someone they love has a grown child who is entangled in a desperately painful situation that child shouldn’t be in in the first place. Perhaps you have close ties to someone who is “in a relationship with” an alcoholic, or a crack addict, or someone who is abusing them—the list is long and tear stained. Because of your love for them you have to get involved with trying to encourage them and help sort things out. Your heart won’t let you sit on the sidelines, not for a New York minute!
But the more you work with the situation, the worse it seems to get. The thing becomes incorrigible and it just goes on an on, because the person you are trying to help—for better or for worse—won’t break the connection to the unsavory person who is dragging him/her down. And because our hearts and lives are connected with them by bonds of duty and affection, their un-Christian relationship with a very un-Christain person is dragging everyone down! Add in children and it gets even worse. Add in big bills, or court battles, or violence and you have to wonder: “Why doesn’t God stop it? Why did He have to allow it in the first place?” What’s going on?
As I was praying over this human debacle, which looks perfectly tragic and dreadful from an earthly perspective, I went up to heaven and tried to see it from the Lord’s point of view. Here’s what I got: imagine someone caught in quicksand about to perish the way they would show it in the old movies. A chain of lives immediately forms, one holding on to the other, as the last in line finally gets close enough to the victim to extend a hand or at least a stick—all the while our heroes are beginning to sink into the downward sloping sides of the sand pit themselves! Now bring that movie image back into real time.
Heaven’s perspective is superior! The man in this image is the “sinner” (the alcoholic, the abuser, the addict) who is terribly at risk of falling into hell, a far worse fate than “merely” dying in a sandpit. We (who are reading this) may represent the strong end of the chain of life, anchored to the Lord and grounded in eternal life and salvation—no fear of sinking! The weakest one is the “grown child” who should never have been in the relationship in the first place, who is reaching out, holding on to the sinner in quicksand, refusing to let go. But that grown child’s footing is not as good as ours (or he/she would never have made such foolish life choices) and so he/she is half slipping into the pit and dragging others in mid-chain down as well. All because of the one he/she chose to “love.”
Now picture this as a living prayer chain instigated by God. God has to recruit intercessors in order to save someone from hell who cannot pray a covering for themselves. He is able to do it whenever someone who is saved “falls” for someone who isn’t. It goes against the Word to enter into that kind of affair, but as it happens, few who are actually walking closely with God would want to join their life to a rolling wreck like the “sinner” in this story—they would run away before any knots could be tied! And rightly so.
Nevertheless, some not-so-grown children of the Body of Christ see something in these damaged worldlings and get drawn in. They would perish in the relationship because they are so ill-equipped for life themselves, but others who are more balanced almost always appear on the scene. They immediately become a part of the Lord’s rescue, first of their beloved, rascally “grown child,” but then almost inadvertently, through all the prayer applied, of the poor, incorrigible sinner at the heart of it all.
What can we do? Pray and keep praying for salvation. Even if the addict or the abuser asked the Lord in once, in my reading of the book, he/she is still in grave danger of losing his salvation, even if his/her church attendance shows a nominal relationship with God and Jesus. You might have guessed that I am not a “once saved always saved” kind of believer, since I believe that it is only those who call and continue to call upon the Name of the Lord who will be saved (following Romans 10:13 and Jesus’ word about only those who persevere “to the end” shall be saved).
If a one-time “once saved always saved” event is enough to guarantee salvation, then these heart-rending, intercession-heavy experiences, are harder to understand. Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit will go to any lengths to get just one person out of hell and into heaven. And from heaven’s perspective—once we get there—that will be all that will really matter to us as well: Did we play our part?
So let’s pray for the incorrigible “sinners” attached to our foolish friends or our rascally “grown children,” not so much so that they will be converted and this situation will no longer be so painful to us or to our loved ones (though of course that is a very real part of it), but so that our own hearts can take on the desperate love and mercy of the Lord and gain His perspective by joining Him on that famous mercy seat of His! The most important person in this scenario of salvation is (as always) the most reprehensible one!
Why? That one needs salvation the most…
Learn more about not getting over-burdened!