As we’ve been discussing, there are certain times when it’s necessary to keep quiet, to relax, to back off. Intensity often leads to futility. Like the little boy who plants the seed and then nervously digs it up every day to see if it is growing. Waiting is as necessary as planting and fertilizing.
When the fish aren’t biting, banging on the water with an oar won’t help. You can’t get sap out of a hoe handle. Nor can a relationship be corrected by legislation and force. Remember, God says there is a “time to shun embracing” (Ecclesiastes 3:5) just as there are times to embrace. “To give up as lost” (3:6) may, on some occasions, be the wisest response, though extremely painful. Sometimes that means simply being silent and allowing God to work. In other words, back off so God can move in. This is never more essential than among family members in a home. Allowing some slack in the rope is, at the right time, a mark of real wisdom.
What a difficult pill for up-tight parents to swallow! Kept edgy by impatience, rigidity, and unbending determination, they foolishly rush in where angels loathe to tread. The result? Exasperated kids. Rooms choked with threats and irritating pressure.
Young guys can do this with girls they date. She wants room to breathe, some space to think things out for herself, but he continues to smother. We can do this with people we have offended. They need time to reason, freedom to forgive without being hurried. To push for a quick closure is like a hard-sell salesman pressing you to buy when you are trying to decide what’s best. The faster he talks and the harder he pushes, the less interested you become in buying—even something you need. The wise salesman knows when to allow you the privilege of deciding for yourself—when to back off and leave you alone.
Nobody is able to eat while they’re weeping. Serving more food isn’t the answer. The appetite will return when the agony subsides . . . and not until. That takes time.
Stop and think. Think first about your family. Then your other friends. Are you being wise or foolish? Are you using force or providing freedom? Are you being pushy or patient? Are you intimidating by your intensity . . . or backing off and relaxing? Are you allowing the ground fog to roll back, or are you launching blindly into dangerous flight?
Want to go deeper? Read John 7:1–14 and notice how Jesus “backed off” on occasion. Study closely His words throughout John 7 to find the keys for knowing when to back off and when not to.
Excerpt taken from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.