When I visited the Yukon, my friend, Carol took me “panning for gold”. Like the prospectors of the gold rush in the 1890’s, I stood in the middle of a creek. The icy water rushed past my rubber boots, chilling my legs and feet to the bone. I used a giant pan, shaped like a pie plate, to scoop gravel from the bottom of the stream. Clumsily, I moved the pan back and forth, sluicing water and sand over the edges until all that was left were tiny stones on the bottom of the pan. My eyes narrowed as I searched for that tiny particle of gold. Nothing. I dumped the gravel and scooped again. After twenty minutes, my back ached. My hands and feet felt frozen. “Enough,” I called to Carol. I went away empty-handed.
Sometimes, helping others who are making destructive choices in their lives is a lot like panning for gold. I have a friend who seems determined to ruin her life. No matter what I do, I cannot fill her endless sink hole of need. I have been sucked dry. I know God has created her filled with nuggets of gold. The panning, the loving of her, often leaves my heart aching from the effort. After a while I call out to God, “Enough, I can’t do it anymore.”
I have to leave her to God and to someone else. I can trust that God will always love her and send people into her life to continue panning for the gold in her being. My job is finished. God has other work for me. It’s true that I will not reap the riches of her emotional health, but that is not mine to have.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2