The devil’s most famous tricks (see 2 Corinthians 2:11) are the ones perpetrated on the young—temptations that incite youthful passions for sex, riches, fame, and power, and that bring the most bang for his buck.
As we grow older he uses a different tact. When we have finally noticed that our dissipations have wrought a harvest of empty relationships, and a pretty kettle of forfeited opportunities, and when we now desire to reverse these courses, the Enemy says, “Well, too late now. Should have thought of that before.”
Sometimes he will try to sweeten the sorrow by reminding us that we are forgiven by God, and therefore we would do well to be grateful and resign ourselves to the status quo till Christ returns. Or, if we are savvy enough to discern that this is just another deception served up on a half-truth, we will adopt a desperate resolve to go around repairing all broken cisterns.
I have two nephews who are going through severe trials at present. I have been the world’s worst aunt, a total no-show for the first three decades of their lives. I have annually transferred their birthdates, in red ink, onto my new kitchen wall calendars—and then have neglected to send birthday cards. Or Christmas cards. Or graduation cards.
When my brother called me to ask for prayers for his sons, I prayed with him on the phone. Other than that, I was tempted to reason that all was lost and that I should graciously resign myself to utter failure and not even bother exerting myself further.
Then I remembered something my husband said—that we err to go to the extremes of despair or grandiose one-shot attempts to restore a relationship that has taken decades to deteriorate. The former is faithlessness in God, and the latter is the panicky hubris of man. A little phone call here, a little greeting card there, and we may gradually improve a bad situation.
Genuine concern and quiet faithfulness are never too late, as long as we are in the land of the living. And the quiet, unspectacular approach more accords with faith in God—God who by small, daily faithfulness is pleased to work redemption in the deadest hearts and driest bones. Do not despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).