In this present time, people are absolutely obsessed with studying English, and I cannot be in the least upset by this, for it is the means by which I support myself. As I meet new people, they often ask me if I can help them learn English. Sometimes they ask very subtly, mentioning it in passing. Other times they are very direct, but not committed, demanding in a joking manner that I teach them English. And finally there are those who are direct and committed, willing to pay money and set up a schedule and plan for study.
For those who are committed and willing to learn, I lay out what it takes to study a language. I tell them the methods, sacrifice, and perseverance necessary to learn to fluency, and one by one, I see them drop out. When they realize the cost to learn English (not monetary, but sacrificial), they turn back. This is why I earn my living from children, for they have no choice but to learn, forced as they are by their parents.
Sometime later, I will inevitably hear back from these people who wanted to study English. Suddenly, a need has arisen in their life and they have to travel abroad, or their job requires language skills, or they need to communicate with foreigners for whatever reason. At this time, they will contact me again, asking me to teach them and that they are in desperate need. Of course by this time, it is too late. If they had stayed the course when they first felt a desire to learn (even if there wasn't urgent need at that time), they would be ready now when they need it.
This situation is true for humanity beyond just learning a language. For almost anything you can think of, people have had desires to fulfill dreams that have evaporated when confronted with the reality of what it would take to materialize their dream. The most heart-breaking example is the decision to follow Jesus.
Even when Jesus was ministering to Israel, many came to Him expressing their heart-felt desire to follow His teachings because they wanted the abundant life that He possessed and was offering to others. Tragically, when Jesus presented to them the cost of following Him, many of those same people turned back, unable to make the sacrifices necessary to continue until the end.
There were many reasons for them doing so. Some couldn't part with family, some with money, and some with their own pride and traditions. I can see these same reasons being used to hold people back from following Jesus even today. When people are interested in Jesus and want the abundant life He offers, I also spell out the costs of following Him first, otherwise they may wait a long time before confronted with the realities of walking in Jesus' steps.
And then, in like manner to those who wanted to learn English, some of those people will turn back and it will be a while before hearing from them once again. When I do hear back from them, there will be some kind of problem they are facing, and they are all out of worldly solutions. They need Jesus, they need the life He offers to overcome and be free. If they would have said yes before, made the necessary sacrifices, then they would have overcome the problem before it even came.
But now, they're desperate and hopeless, without power. They are dissatisfied that my message for them at that time is the same as it was at first. Repent, follow Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit. It's that simple. Even when all seems hopeless, it's not too late. There is still an opportunity to turn away from our own sinful desires and place all our hope in the risen Christ.
For any who are in similar situations or know someone in such a circumstance as this, the answer to their hopelessness is trusting in Jesus. This is the only way to overcome. Whether learning a language or following Jesus, you have to count the cost, then be willing to sell everything you have to pay the price, for there can be no greater reward than the one who endures to the end and can hear those blessed words from the Savior.
"Well done, good and faithful servant... Enter into the joy of your Lord." Matthew 25:23