"But it seems like the time for dragging people by the hand is over."
EXACTLY. Pagan mom and I were attached at the hip until mid-summer and I've barely seen her since. It's not me (though I prayed about it and asked God to remove her from my life if it was His will), it's her... and she's not mad at me or anything, just... one thing after another. SIL I think is in this camp too. I apologized to her 'cause I ticked her off (drama) and haven't heard from her since. (SIL used to be Christian-lite, and is now more of a mystic. She thinks dead MIL makes my pictures crooked).
Has anyone else noticed that believers, esp those close to God, are getting little special presents lately? Not physical, necessarily, more like "Hey kids... balloons!" Just little things that are meaningful, desires that have been put on hold, and it's not a huge deal, just "Oh wow, thank You!"
DH thinks celebrating Jewish holidays is silly, but is willing to put up with it for me. And HE'S noticed that this is a wacky month for prepping our house/lives/getting things squared away. Something is definitely up.
I will be doing Elul cleaning since we're having the house tented next weekend... but not until then, obvy.
As for the world and its woes/natural disasters et al... I think of it as both a warning, and as the Restrainer loosening up His restraining. God protects us from bad things, but when we act like fools, sometimes He lets us feel the effects of our stupidity. We DO reap what we sow. That's not God's active will, that's just God letting us be not-robots. People are getting snarky about the least *suggestion* that God might be in any of the natural disasters... sigh. Maybe it's just time to close up shop.
-eyeroll- Even pagan mom acknowledged that it looked like that time to her. Truly he who denies God is a fool.