Life is changing, moving and rushing onward. No matter how badly we wish to slow it down time just keeps moving. Sometimes we get stuck. Life moves on, but we are caught in a relationship or an event that seems to hold us back. How many hours will we squander on a lost cause? Christians are more susceptible than others to being caught in a time trap. We refuse to give up. We will spend large chunks of our life on a person or a cause that simply will not improve. How can we move on? Is there any word from Scripture? Is there a time to surrender and move on with our lives?
Jesus moved on. In Luke 4:14 ff, Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth and went into the synagogue to worship. His selection of Scripture and his comments enraged the people so that Jesus left Nazareth. In Matthew 11:21-24, Jesus denounced the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida because they refused to believe on him even though he had done mighty works among the people. In Matthew 13:57, our Lord returns again to Nazareth and finds little has changed. He rebukes them, saying: “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and in his own household.” Jesus famously told his disciples that there is a time to “shake off the dust from your feet” and move on (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). Sometimes you must move on.
Paul moved on. He certainly heeded the words of Jesus when he turned from preaching to the Jews and began to preach to the Gentiles (Acts 18:6). The Jews had continued to oppose him. Paul was done. He moved on.
God moves on. In Romans 1:24, 26 and 28, the Bible says God gave sinners up to their own wicked conduct and the consequences of their sin. In the days of Noah, God was so sorrowed at the depth of sin that he destroyed the world and all in it except Noah’s family (Genesis 6:6).
There is a time to move on. But God is all-knowing and all-wise. He knows clearly when to move on. What about us? We are not divine and we will err but we can still learn from observing some things by observing these turning points in the Bible.
You only move on once you have done your best. Every one of us is limited by our own set of talents and abilities. Once we have truly done our best, there is simply nothing left. It is best to move ahead and perhaps allow another to step in. When sharing the Gospel we often feel frustrated because we fail to convince a man of his sin or of the plan of salvation. But remember, we plant seed or we water, but it is God who gives the result (1 Corinthians 3:6).
You only move on when the other person has done their worst. How many times have you reached out to another in kindness but have been met with harsh, even hateful words? It is sad, but some people just don’t want your help. Even though their life could improve, they resist aid. It is not clear why they are so resistant. Maybe it’s pride or arrogance, or fear. But we cannot force our love and assistance on anyone. God forces no man to be saved; he forces his love on none.
You only move on when you have no other choice. It is hard to understand that some people are so resistant to our efforts. But what if Jesus never left Nazareth? What if Paul never went to the Gentiles? Sometimes we are forced to move ahead, else we will be consumed and we will fail to reach others who both need and desire our help.
When the time comes to move on, do two things. First, freely forgive. They may never ask for your forgiveness but you must still forgive them anyway. Second, keep praying for them. No matter how angry or nasty a person becomes they can never prevent you from forgiving and praying for them. While life is within them they may one day change. One day, the warming love of the Savior may break through their calloused heart. We move on, but we do not forget them.