august 28, 2023

“‘Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.’

‘Behold, we come to you, for you are the Lord our God.’”

-Jeremiah 3:22

I follow several social media pages that are devoted to motorcycles and every once in a while a shared story stands out in my mind and it is one of those stories that I feel ties nicely into this devotion.  The story was shared by a lady who had been riding motorcycles for several years, she was experienced and she just loved being out on two wheels.  One afternoon, while out on a ride, a car pulled out in front of her and, unfortunately, there was a collision.  The good news is that she only suffered minor injuries, none that required medical attention, but the motorcycle was totaled.  What she went on to reveal was that despite the lack of physical injuries there was an emotional and mental injury that she just couldn’t shake.  She gave up riding because she just couldn’t stand the thought of getting back in the saddle and riding again, there was a mental block associated with the accident and she had nightmares of the car pulling out in front of her, time and again.  She did not ride for 8 years, that is until a friend convinced her to ride as a passenger one day.  Initially, her fears and doubts overshadowed the joy many of us find in riding but soon she found herself relishing in the freedom, the wind, the sounds and she was hooked again.  A few weeks later she was the proud owner of a new motorcycle and she was back on the road, she was reengaged to a lifestyle she had once loved so much.

Many of us are in a similar position when it comes to our faith.  We find ourselves on fire for God and filled with passion and desire to be obedient to His Word.  We may even share the gospel with others because we just cannot contain the joy and the excitement that has overwhelmed our hearts.  Somewhere along the way, a little bit of sin chips away at that joy, just a tiny crack in the excitement and love we have for the Lord.  Sometimes, in our lives, those cracks start appearing all over and soon they start to join one another, becoming larger and more prevalent, outweighing the joy, the love, and the faith we were so fired up about just a short time ago.  The sin starts to feel pretty good to us and we lose sight of the faith we once had, we are separating ourselves from God but somehow we tell ourselves that it was He who abandoned us.  This entire sentiment can be succinctly summarized in a few lines from one of my favorite songs, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  The two lines that stand out to me say this:

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”

It’s in our nature, again an enduring result of the Fall in the Garden of Eden.  But one thing we tell ourselves, that just isn’t true, is that God abandoned us.  We don’t want to face the truth that we were the ones who turned our backs on Him, we have to blame someone else so we blame Him. Moses spoke these words to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:8:

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

-Deuteronomy 31:8

This is a promise that remains to this day, God will not leave or forsake us.  Don’t confuse these words into convincing yourself that God will not judge us.  He is always waiting for us, beckoning to us, but we are the ones who reject Him, not the other way around.

So when we turn our backs on God, when we incorrectly tell ourselves that He has left us, we find ourselves in a predicament, because there comes a point where we want to return to Him, to come home, but we feel guilt and shame because we know we were wrong.  We now tell ourselves that we cannot return to Him, and the sad thing is we believe it.  If you have ever told yourself that you cannot return to God, just be thankful that you are wrong.  Look at these words from God, as revealed to the prophet Isaiah:

“I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud

    and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.”

-Isaiah 44:22

We aren’t the only ones to have rebelled against God, or lost sight of our faith, it has been happening since creation and it will continue to happen until Christ’s return.  Even His chosen people, the nation of Israel, have had their moments and again, through the prophet Isaiah, these words were shared:

“Turn to him from whom people have deeply revolted, O children of Israel.”

-Isaiah 31:6

We can return, I am proof of that myself.  I strayed so far from God, at one point in my life, that I didn’t even give Him a second thought.  Somewhere along the way, however, I felt Him calling to me, drawing me out of the abyss that was my life.  I found that I could come back to Him and that through my obedience to Him, I can be a new creation.  This reminds me of the parable of the lost sheep, if you don’t know this parable it can be found in Luke 15:1-7.  God loves all of His children and he will come searching for any of them who are lost.  I love how Jesus ends this parable, with these words:

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

-Luke 15:7

We may be afraid, we may feel we have strayed too far, and we may be filled with shame, but that can be overcome by grace through faith.  I have used a lot of verses from the Old Testament in this devotion and it just seems fitting to close with some more encouragement from a portion of the Bible that we often overlook.  The Bible is more than just the New Testament, don’t forget that!  But we will conclude our devotion with these words from Joel:

“...Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;

    and he relents over disaster.”

-Joel 2:13

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