Though it is extremely rare for a fool to come to his senses,
it has happened, for nothing is impossible with God.
The common variable seems to be pain.
So though our natural response is often to shield “our” fool
from his choices, that is not how God has parented us.
When His first two children rebelled,
He “kicked them out of the house.”
When Israel would not stop their idolatry,
He had them taken captive for seventy years by the Babylonians.
His goal was to lead them to true repentance, faith, and healing.
It was tough love.
between a prodigal, a fool, and mental illness — and there are differences.
A prodigal does know the Lord, but has drifted away.
A true fool may pretend to know the Lord, but I will explain why I feel sure he could not.
And mental illness is a whole different category.
Let me tell you a story.
When we adopted Annie, our eleven year old daughter Sally went into a deep clinical depression: not eating, not sleeping, and weeping all the time. She told me she felt “rudely displaced and unloved.” I was exasperated, for I felt I had loved her with my whole heart. I said to Steve, “We have poured love out on this child, why can’t she just snap out of it?”
Steve said, “Would you tell someone who had the flu to “snap out of it?”
We took Sally to a child psychiatrist who felt quite sure that she had a chemical imbalance that revealed itself under this stress. He explained to me: God has put endorphins into our cells to be released under stress, but someone with a chemical imbalance had a thicker membrane around his cells, and the endorphins can’t get out. He drew a picture of a cell and the membrane wall.
He then explained that what an anti-depressant does is thin that wall so that the endorphins can get out. For Sally, it was the answer. She began eating, sleeping, and returning to her joyful self. She also then, and only then, was able to repent of her selfishness. At a Christian concert the singer said, “Do you have yuk in your heart you cannot get rid of? Come up and repent and ask the Lord for help.” Sally practically ran up the aisle. But Sally needed physical help before she could get spiritual help, and then Sally and Annie became close.
Though some of the same techniques may apply to mental illness, I would first advise professional help. I feel it is in a different category and I am certainly not equipped to advise. I also realize that some with mental illness will not take their meds and there are some mental illnesses that have not yet been helped by meds. So certainly discernment is needed from the Spirit in these cases — you may not feel led to let them go, but you may need emotional detachment.
But for the prodigal and the fool, help may be found from a book and video series our own Lizzy introduced me to: Letting Go.
Paul Tripp recommends this book, explaining that “Letting go” may bring a fool or a prodigal to the point of hopelessness, and “hopelessness is the only doorway to real and lasting hope.”
Because we are in a holiday week, we’ll spread this important lesson out over two weeks.
WEEK ONE: (4TH OF JULY WEEK) HOW GOD PARENTS US
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- How have you seen God at work in the last twenty-four hours?
Monday: Can a True Fool Be A True Believer?
Some of you have questioned this, and I think it is wise to ponder, for I don’t think it is possible to be both a true believer and a true fool. I believe this for a true believer has seen his sin and repented but a fool never feels the need to repent for he is “never wrong.” Also, I John tells us that “one born of God does not keep on sinning, for God’s seed is in him, and he cannot keep sinning.”
But sometimes it is hard to know if someone is a believer or not. Even Jesus warned us not to make that judgment for a wheat and a tare look very much alike. Some pretend to repent. Some display what seems to be fruit, but is part of his deception. They may memorize verses or participate in church. In “Letting Go” the authors write: “No need to be a card-carrying atheist to be a fool. You can believe that God exists but still reject him as the authority over your life.” James tells us the demons believe God exists, and yet they are not true believers. Words alone are not evidence of genuine faith — you should see fruit. But I am open to discussion on this, and invite you to share your thoughts.
3. What do you think Psalm 14:1 means?
4. What about 1 John 3:9?
5. Do you think a fool can be a child of God? Support your answer scripturally if possible.
Tuesday-Wednesday: What Tends to Awaken Fools and Prodigals
Again and again it seems it is pain. That is what brought the younger son to his senses. And Jan Silvious has told me that sometimes a great public humiliation will bring a fool to his senses. This brings me to the first lecture I’d like you to hear from “Letting Go.” It has to do with how God parents us. Go to this link and watch the first video.
6. Notes and comments from Video 1?
Thursday/Friday: 4th and 5th of July
I’d like to take a little break here to pray for our country, using the following Scriptures. You can pray silently or write your prayers after the Scriptures. Feel also to simply pour our your heart as well.
2 Chronicles 7:14 – if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Psalms 2:10-11 – Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Proverbs 11:14 – For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
7. What is your take-a-way and why?
WEEK TWO: WEEK OF JULY 7TH
This is our final session on the fool in proverbs, and I thought this Session 3 video very helpful. It is a testimony from a husband and wife where the wife had to exercise “tough love” to bring her husband to his senses. They had to be separated for 5 months, for as seems common, it took time.
- How did you see God move in your life over the last week. Did something stand out in particular? If so, why?
2. Share your notes and comments on session 3.
3. Share a recent God Hunt!
4. Share your notes and comments on Session 4.
5. Do you have a recent God Hunt?
6. What do you want to remember from our study of the fool and why?
7. How did this study personally impact you?