Six months ago, he was homeless and helpless, but when I met him the other day, he was radiant. Steve had become a Christian. I love it when people who have lived a rough life get saved. You can see their faces change and soften, as the new person they have become gradually makes its mark on their physical appearance. So it was with this guy. After a little while, he embarrassedly excused himself to go outside for a cigarette. He apologised that smoking was something he had not yet got the victory in.
When Lot got saved from Sodom, he didn’t feel he could make it the whole way to the mountains, (Genesis 19 v 17 – 22). It was a push too far. Did God destroy him because he couldn’t obey? Did he judge him as inadequate? Was his commitment seen as lacking? No, God had mercy. He knew Lot’s limitations, accepted the compromise, and allowed him to take refuge in the small town. Because God is a merciful God.
Back to my smoking friend. God accepts him just as he is. God knows he has come a very long way. God knows that giving up smoking at this stage is a step too far. I have no doubt the day will come, when God will put his finger on this issue, and give him the strength to stop smoking. But until that day, God accepts him and so will I.
Then I think, what are the issues in my life that God has still to put his finger on and cause me to put right? None of us has reached perfection yet! Sometimes we are dilatory, and overlook our own limitations when we should be addressing them; sometimes we are over-harsh with ourselves when God is not.
But the most encouraging thing, is that Lot did make it to the mountains in the finish. It just took a little longer. My friend will get the strength from God at the right time to give up smoking, and I will get the strength from God to deal with my inadequacies. Thank God for his mercy, and praise God for his enabling!