Are you helping….or harming?

We all have them. Those people in our lives whose own lives are in a mess. They are our children, our grandchildren, our neighbors, our friends.

We are commanded to love them, to help them, to restore them to the faith….

But how much is too much? Where is the line between helping and enabling?

My husband preaches often on the Prodigal Son and how today he would never have come back home because some little old ladies would’ve been bringing him sandwiches while he was in the miry muck. Everyone laughs but it’s true. Sometimes we need to allow people to reach a place where they have no choice but to reach for God’s Hand.

When someone is in a deep hole and we extend our own hand, we can only pull them so far. Or worse, they pull us down as well. But God has the ability to not only pull them out of the hole, but to send them soaring in the sky.

I know because He did it with me.

It’s hard to know when to help and when to let go. A quick little guide: if you are helping out of guilt, manipulation, or because you just can’t stand to watch them suffer- it’s probably time to take a step back. If there’s a peace and an inward knowing of exactly what to do, it’s usually the Lord. Only by prayer (or even better, prayer and fasting) will you know for sure.

I once made a serious error in judgment that could’ve had a much worse outcome. It is a perfect illustration of what it’s like to love someone and try to protect them to the point of near death.

My husband and I were headed out of town for the night. We had two puppies still at home and the older dogs had been pretty aggressive with them. We didn’t want them to get hurt while we were gone so we put them inside a play fence in our den with their own food and water bowls.

When we got home the first thing I noticed was that the puppies were panting, looking like they were dying. It was then that I noticed their water bowl tipped on its side. I’m certain that within the first few minutes of our departure, these hyper puppies had knocked over that water bowl and were trapped, unable to get to the main water bowl, the refillable one that would’ve sustained them.

Would they have been in danger from the other dogs? Maybe. They wouldn’t have been killed but maybe chased a little. Run under the couch. Maybe run off from the food dish. But they would’ve have access to the water.

They wouldn’t have been in as much danger as they were from me trying to protect them. I almost killed them just because I was scared to let them take care of themselves.

We do this with our loved ones sometimes. We try so hard to protect them ourselves that we cut them off from their main water source- Jesus. He is the Living Water. Don’t let someone die of thirst because you’re giving them droplets from a shut-off water hose when they can have fountains of everlasting water.

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:14

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