My oldest daughter recently graduated to big kids’ Sunday School. What that means for her is: goodbye coloring sheets and eating Goldfish; hello memory verses and eight-year-olds.
A couple of weeks ago, I took her to the new class, where we made an unfortunate discovery: her friend Anna wasn’t there. My daughter got quiet, and then she almost started crying – Anna is the only reason she has the courage to go to the big kids’ class.
“Don’t worry, I’ll stay with you,” I said, hoping that she would eventually get comfortable and I could ease out of the room.
Progress was slow-going, but minute by minute, she was a little less fearful. All the while, I literally inched away from her and began to think she might actually stay in class by herself. But that’s when the sweetest, most well-intentioned teacher stepped in.
The lady came over with a warm smile, got in between my daughter and me, and invited my daughter to sit in her lap. I was certain it wasn’t going to work, and I was right.
My daughter immediately looked over at me, and her bottom lip turned down. Then she started crying, and the teacher tried to comfort her until I finally said, “I think I’ll just take her back to her old class.”
So many times, I’ve been like that well-intentioned teacher in other people’s lives. I can tell that they’re struggling, and God doesn’t seem to be doing enough to intervene. So I get involved – I share my opinion, try to console, or say the first thing that comes to mind. But little do I know, I’m actually getting in the way of an unseen work that God is doing. He didn’t need my help. The Holy Spirit was doing just fine before I showed up; and in fact, He could’ve made a lot progress in the person’s life if I had just given them some space.
It’s a tricky thing, getting involved in someone else’s hurt, and I’m not saying I should always keep my distance. But when I see someone wrestling in the hands of God’s providence, I should proceed with caution. The Holy Spirit is quite capable of saying the right word, teaching the hard lesson, comforting the person whom words can’t help.
There’s no doubt that He may want to use me to as He deals with someone else’s heart. But if Jesus Himself went away so that the Holy Spirit could do His job (John 16:7), I would do well to consider whether I might need to step back sometimes and do the same.