It is an experience I have had and, in all likelihood, one you have had as well. I have gone to the doctor to tell him about some pain, some illness, some ailment, and he has asked, “How long has it been like this?” Sheepishly I’ve had to admit, “It has been months” or “It’s been like that for a year.” And, like a dad who is disappointed in his child, he has had to tell me, “You know, if you had come in a long time ago, this would have been much easier to treat.” Sometimes he has even had to say, “At this point, there is really nothing I can do. But if you had come to me a year ago…”
Similarly, I once learned a hard lesson not too long after I bought my first vehicle. The brakes began to squeal which told me they needed to be serviced. But I was busy and foolish and kept procrastinating a visit to the mechanic. When I finally did take my truck in, both the pads and rotors were in dire condition and needed to be completely replaced. That was an expensive lesson for a young man.
Doctors, mechanics, and so many others—all are familiar with the frustration of having people approach them only long after a problem begins. All are familiar with having to ask, “Why didn’t you bring this to my attention years ago? I could have helped you then. And the recovery or repair would have been so much easier. I would have had much greater confidence in my ability to help had you come here when the symptoms first began.”
But have you ever noticed that God is unbothered by the degree of an individual’s brokenness or the duration of his spiritual illness? Have you ever considered that God actually seems to specialize in the cases that appear to be most hopeless? Have you ever observed that he is able to redeem the hearts of people who had earnestly and willfully rebelled against him for years? Or that he is able to renew marriages that had gone sour almost as soon as the honeymoon came to an end?
How often have we seen the Lord reach out and save those who had extended patterns of rebellion, deep convictions about the non-existence of God, or a lifelong commitment to an entirely different faith? How often have we seen him blaze his light into utter darkness, speak his voice to ears that had been completely stopped? How often have we seen him address patterns of sinfulness that had been established since childhood or bring joy to marriages that had seemed beyond repair?
If God was a doctor, he would gladly request the most difficult cases and the most critical patients. If he was a counselor, he would request the people who had the hardest pasts, the most established patterns, and the least commitment to the process. And he would heal them all.
That’s not to say, of course, that we should dawdle before turning to him for salvation or linger before pleading with him for sanctification. It’s not to say that we should permit ourselves a long disobedience before finally doing as he has commanded. It is to say, though, that no case is beyond hope and no person beyond help. Whether we are pleading for the souls of those we love or seeking grace for our own patterns of misbehavior, we can trust that he is willing and that he is able. For no one is too far for his eyes to see when they wave their hands in surrender; no one is too distant for his ears to hear when they cry for his help; no one is too broken for his hands to heal when they fall down before him. No one is beyond his ability to bless, to save, or to heal.