April 23, 2009

Dragged into the Kingdom

Ellen wasn’t interested in God or Jesus Christ. Her sister was the spiritual person in the family. One summer, the sister attended a Christian camp for adults. On the last day of camp, she arranged that Ellen would drive to the campground and pick her up.

Ellen arrived early and found herself in the meeting tent. The speaker was giving his final message to the campers. Ellen didn’t have much choice, so she listened. At the end of the message, he invited those who wished to repent of their sins and be saved to come forward. Ellen had no intention of doing that.

However, she began to feel a strong compulsion to leave her seat. She grabbed the back of the chair in front of her. The compulsion grew stronger. She laughs telling the story. “I nearly pulled that chair — and the poor man sitting in it — with me. I had to go to the front. God was calling me and it was totally impossible to resist.”

Not everyone who comes into the kingdom has an experience like Ellen’s, but what happened to her vividly illustrates what Jesus said to those who questioned Him.
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:44-45).
The word “draw” literally means dragged. Ellen said that it felt like God physically grabbed and pulled her to the platform at that tent meeting. She tried to resist by gripping the chair, but His power was stronger than her resistance. She had heard about Him and now He was asking her to come and drawing her to obedience.

Some might think God is a bully for doing something like that, but God isn’t being mean. He is motivated by kindness. From the Old Testament, one of my favorite verses about His love shows that love moves Him to draw or drag people from sin to Himself.
The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you” (Jeremiah 31:3).
God loves people. He sent Jesus to die for people. Yet sin makes us dull of hearing and bent on our own ways. I know that apart from the drawing power of God, I would never have been interested in being saved from my sin or in what He could do for me.

Now I know that even before salvation, God cared for me and guided me. At that time I had no idea of His love. I’d been deathly ill in childhood and my mother prayed for me life. I didn’t know about this or that God had answered her prayers until much later. Like the people of God in the Old Testament, I was oblivious to His loving care.
“I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them” (Hosea 11:3-4).
In love, God takes care of people. He provides food for our tables, healing for our sicknesses, and grace for each day, yet most of us are oblivious to His kindness. It is only when His bands of love drag us, like Ellen, to the foot of the cross that we begin to see the great love and mercy of God. And if anyone resists, like Ellen resisted, they will also begin to see that the love of God can also be accompanied by irresistible power. When He wants to save someone, He knows how to make it happen.

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