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For The Precious and Ragged Souls

December 5, 2008

I have not seen Connie (not her real name) since June of this year. Like many other co-workers, she opted for the buyout which the company offered this summer and has moved on to other venues. She is one of the many whom I used to pass by almost daily in the plant; although we were in the same department for only two months during the winter of 2005. Tragically, the abundance of such routine encounters creates an illusion of continuity; as though there is an endless supply of opportunities to reach out to one whose in the balance. When we contemplate the number of eternal souls that, for a season, were a regular fixture in our lives, but are no longer, it can be mind numbing.

Earlier this week, I received word that very recently, Connie had tried to end her life. I also learned that this was her second attempt and that she had suffered from depression for years. All of this was news to me. Sadly, I’ve learned more about Connie in the past 72 hours than I ever learned during the five years in which we had a common employer.  Words cannot describe how this news hit me. A precious soul battling such overwhelming despair that it overpowered any fear of God or the age to come. Although one could argue that the problem was well conceiled, the truth is that I was simply too wrapped up in my own world as a soul was in distress. We can become so consumed with our own set of  dramas that we fail to see the disasters playing out all around us. The seemingly most steadfast and successful person could well be at their wits end. 

Had Connie departed the land of the living, I would be unable to write about this.

It goes without saying that Connie is on my emergency prayer list; the one containing the names of those who are lifted up at every rememberance. Oftentimes, in the aftermath of a calamity, or a near calamity, praying for those who are going through turmoil seems woefully insufficient.  There’s a tendancy to unwittingly develop a “religious” view of prayer. We spend time with the Lord Jesus and bring forth our petitions but fail to fully grasp the awesomeness of the truth that we are in the presence of the Creator of the universe and that entire mountains can be cast down from the confines of the prayer closet. This is not a substitute for ministering when we have an opening to do so, but prayer should be offered up consistantly.

I Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

I Timothy 2:1 “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intrcessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men;”

In this verse, the words “first” and “all” are very revealing. One tells of the importance of praying for others (first) while the other tells us who is to be prayed for. (all) Every soul is a battlefield as the devil seeks to hang on to those who are outside the household of faith and trip up those who are born of the Spirit. Each person that we encounter represents a theater of spiritual combat which is far more complex than what’s seen on the surface. While over the course of time we will know what a person holds in their heart (Matthew 12:34) we may never know the deep wrestlings that they go through when nobody is around to put on a show for.  Thoughts of utter despair, feelings of profound lonliness; a sense that life is going on around them while they are in some form of unseen void. Add to this the repeated attacks of the enemy to reinforce these ideas and eventually suggest that life is no longer worth the effort and a tragedy is in the making.

Such information; unless the Holy Spirit makes them known to us, will oftentimes remain hidden until it’s too late.  Therefore, praying for those around us should be a continuous thing.  To truly love our neighbors as ourselves, look beyond the front, and see the tormented soul that’s crying out for something authentic. Looking for true love and peace that can never be found in the arena of atoms. The devil offers up one false lead after another. “Try these; they’ll make you happy.”  You need more stuff; then you’ll be happy.” An endless parade of allurements and a cleverly packaged set of deceptions as he strives to run out the clock on a priceless soul. An eternal soul, fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, whose sins were paid for when Jesus shed his blood on Calvary. May we grasp the depth of the following familiar verse:

Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

 A few weeks ago, in the early morning, I was approaching Constantine from the west. (As I do every morning) Looking at the stereotypical sleepy midwestern village as steam rose from the river, I began focusing on individual houses and pondering what dramas may be transpiring in each one. It was a moment when the sheer scope of the need for Jesus; even in this little village, became overwhelming. I wanted to say “forget work; these people are lost!” When we begin to grasp what Jesus meant when he stated  “but the labourers are few” it’s both sobering and heartbreaking. Suddenly the temporal things which we pay so much homage lose their urgency. So what if the church building doesn’t get new carpeting this year.  So what if we can’t afford a new vehicle. It’s just stuff and the more stuff that we have, the more we’ll lose when it’s time to let go. Every atom that makes up the physical world has a short life span in comparison to the everlasting.

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But the souls will remain forever; either in the new Jerusalem, or in outer darkness. Every day we come face to face with eternity and we are called to stand in the gap for those running headlong toward an eternity of unimaginable torment and despair. To share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ when we’re with them, and to pray fervently for them when we’re apart.  In the realm of spiritual warfare, every one of us have a position on the front line that only we can fill. The following link is found on one of the pages and almost never receives any hits, but I’ll place it here as it displays two truths. One, the fact that every day souls are entering hell, and two, the fact that intercessory prayer is a powerful weapon against the enemy who comes to steal and destroy. Here’s the link to Aline Baxleys testimony:

I Walked in Hell (Testimony of Aline Baxley)

This testimony is very sobering, but needful as our understanding of the battle at hand must go beyond  theological rhetoric and into the arena of decisions where every day, souls are departing. This post has been on my heart since last week, but the news of Connie took it into an entirely different direction. Please keep Connie in prayer. The Lord knows her real name) I’ll close for now, but will leave with these passages in Revelation that show the profound impact of heartfelt prayer. 

Revelation 5:8 “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.”

Revelation 8:3-4 “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incence, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incence, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angels hand.”

 The relation between a sweet smelling fragrance and the prayers of the saints is far more incredible than we can fathom. I wish to all, a blessed day in Jesus.

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2 comments

  1. The supposition of many seems to be that time is short and we should spread the good news before it’s too late and the LORD comes back to judge the world.

    Well, that may be true but we never know WHO time is short for – as in Connie’s case. So, to pray for those that the Holy Spirit puts on our heart is essential for preparing them to receive the Truth and some encouragement from the Spirit.

    I’ve learned that when I’m prompted to pray, by that I mean that someone’s name is suddenly remembered, I don’t hesitate – I just pray. I pray however the Spirit moves me. I don’t analyze why or what. I just do it – at least most of the time – I think…. I know the evil one won’t inspire me to pray so it has to be the LORD.

    Thanks for the reminder to pray at all times Timbob.
    In my years of ministry I’ve had some in my care who’ve committed suicide. I grieve over each one. But it’s the one that’s on the verge who needs our prayers and our ministry the most.

    I will pray for Connie. Thanks for sharing this need with your friends.

    Blessings,
    –Jerald


  2. Good evening Jerald. Indeed every day is someones last day and we never know whose last day it will be. Being instant in prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit is a must. Thanks for keeping Connie in prayer.

    have a blessed evening in Jesus.



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