“Shake the dust off.” Many times this week, I’ve heard this phrase run my mind. It’s really caused me to chew on this thought. This isn’t an impression I’ve ever had before. I struggle with letting go. I contemplate people in my life, who are no longer there. Not those who have died, but those who chosen to separate. There is a part of me that never wants to give up on them and always believe that the end will be a good outcome. The unfortunate reality I’ve experienced, is more like a painful rejection of me and also my Father in Heaven. I’ve had to let go of my plans and release my grip on people who no longer desire a connection. I have to remember sometimes, that a happy ending depends wholly on my own relationship with God, and that the happy ending is not for this life, it’s for the next one.
Several people I love, have walked away. Some family and a few friends. They chose a broad path in life, that did not include the straight and narrow one that I am travailing. When we are in a relationship with unbelievers, whether it be family or friends; a time comes when a decision will be made. If we strive with the Holy Spirit, eventually that unbeliever will either feel impressed to grow closer to it, or pull away from it. If they choose to pull away from it, we must respect their free will. Holding on as they walk away isn’t wise. Their determination to flee from the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit, can drag us away from God. In our efforts to please them and keep a white knuckled grasp, we can be led to spiritual danger further from God. Even worse, those who follow us may also be led to destruction. Just as our influence can have power, so can theirs. Letting go and shaking the dust off, is a protection for us. Bad company corrupts good character.
Proverbs 16: 27-30
27. An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.
28. A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
29. A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.
30. He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.
I always strive to give the benefit of the doubt and not be the one to shut the door in a relationship. I don’t think it is the right thing for a Christian to be the one to shut the door. Usually we don’t have to, the unbeliever does that for us. When they do…we have to let them. I have to honor their decision to separate. Even Jesus, doesn’t attempt to kick the door in. He stands at the door and knocks, but never intrudes.
2nd Corinthians 6: 14-18
14. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15. And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
18. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
When a relationship begins injuring us spiritually, and an unbeliever no longer wants to walk with us…we must allow them to separate. Jesus came, set an example, invited us to walk with him with the promise of never leaving us alone if we strive with him. If we choose not to follow his example and we make the decision not to strive with him, there comes a time when Jesus must turn and shake the dust off his feet.
Mathew 10:13 &14
13. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
If you look up the word “dust,” in the Bible, it quickly becomes apparent that dust represents the spiritually dead. Those who have not chosen to rise from the dust. I constantly have to remind myself that I am not directly responsible for someone else’s salvation. No matter how good of an example I try to be, or how much I pray for them, I cannot make the decision for them. I can love them by praying for their soul, but I have to let go. So I loosen and release my grasp. I mourn, but I shake the dust off my feet and turn to Jesus, and follow where he leads. He will never leave me alone.
I still live with a hope that those who have chosen separation, will someday want to join Jesus back on this straight and narrow path. I don’t have to give up that hope, but I do have to allow them their freedom to choose. For those who have chosen distance, I still grieve…but I must continue on. I am on a journey that does not stop here. I will choose to love them from afar. My love for them, cannot exceed my love for God. Our time with unbelievers is not wasted. Some will take this cup and some will pass it, but the opportunity is presented. We cannot be defeated, when we share this cup with someone who chooses not to drink of it. This is what we do as followers of Christ. We offer, and some will accept and some will not.
34. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
37. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
40. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
41. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
42. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
Our job remains as always, to love, set an example, present opportunity and follow Jesus. Sometimes we must shake off the dust. The rain pouring down outside today, drenching all of the creation around me, reminds me that God will one day wash all the tears from our eyes.
- And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Someday God will heal the pain of heartbreak and we will rest. I pray today that we all are hand in hand with Jesus, and that we have the strength to never grasp another’s hand tighter than we grasp his. I love you each. huge hugs.