Twenty-three years, then hard hearts

I’ve been reading through Jeremiah lately and in chapter 25, something Jeremiah said to the people of Judah convicted me.  Here’s what he wrote:

For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the LORD persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, saying, ‘Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever. Dot not go after other gods to serve and worship them” (25:3-6a).

So often I am disappointed if someone does “get” the gospel immediately.  Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend and we discussed what it means for a church to be “successful.”  For Jeremiah, it meant faithfully preaching God’s word, even if people didn’t listen.  It mean being patient because transformation is a process, and sometimes God takes his time with grace. And even after 23 years, Jeremiah didn’t give up his warnings and pleadings to turn back to God.  He faithfully kept speaking as God called him to.

O Lord, keep me faithful to your word, and help me teach it lovingly and truthfully.  Keep me from complaining when someone doesn’t listen, and help me remember where I was before you saved me.