God’s tender call to return to Him is a common denominator in the lives of wayward believers. Many young Christ followers, for whatever the reason, choose to leave the faith, or more commonly, to ignore it as they chase after the excitement and worldly opportunities of young adulthood. I’m afraid I fell into that latter category myself at one time. The lures of idolatry are not restricted to ancient Israel.
Many other believers stay true to the Lord for their entire faith journey, and that is a great credit to them. But the good news is that God is faithful to us even when we have not been faithful to Him. He is ALWAYS calling us back home, be we stumbling outside a bar or in a cold jail cell in the back of a prison. He is very quick to forgive us and to take us back into His fold whenever we decide to go back to Him. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is sufficient to atone for even the most serious of sins, so there is no issue with Him covering all of our failures and shortcomings with His pure holiness and forgiveness, no matter how unholy we have been.
This same situation was true for the entire nation of Israel after the Babylonian exile. Because of the great hardship the exile presented, they finally let go of their desire for the stubborn idolatry that had put them there. At long last, the people “got it”. And to help them return home, God called the prophet Zechariah for be His divine mouthpiece to them. Zechariah writes:
3 So tell the people: This is what the Lord of Hosts says: Return to Me”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts—“and I will return to you, says the Lord of Hosts. Zechariah 1:3 (HCSB)
Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord. He is saying the very same thing to many of us today.
4 Do not be like your ancestors; the earlier prophets proclaimed to them: This is what the Lord of Hosts says: Turn from your evil ways and your evil deeds. But they did not listen or pay attention to Me”—this is the Lord’s declaration. 5 “Where are your ancestors now? And do the prophets live forever? 6 But didn’t My words and My statutes that I commanded My servants the prophets overtake your ancestors? They repented and said: As the Lord of Hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so He has dealt with us.” Zechariah 1:4-6 (HCSB)
The word of God will speak to us to open our eyes to the futility of walking wayward paths. In my case, the lure of alcohol advanced to the point where I had to eventually make a choice – worship God or drink. For much of my twenties and early 30’s, I made the foolish choice to pursue alcohol and pretty much turned my back on God. Mercifully, the Lord was patient with me, and let the good and bad lessons of life make me ready to return to the draw of His grace. I sought the Lord and returned to the cross of Christ. He forgave me, taught me many new and encouraging things, and helped me to put down alcohol one day at a time ever since.
Five years after my return, God drew me into a study of the entire Bible. I could see His hand wind all through scripture in a continuous thread. That journey bolstered my faith, and the Lord’s continuing spiritual investment has led to this series of online meditations. They are placed here to share with all who wish to search the divine “gold” of His word and experience the wonders of His presence.
God continues to use me whenever I will allow myself to partner with Him. There is no greater satisfaction in life than the times I know I have been exactly where He wants me to be, doing the things He wants me to do. This may be leading a Bible Study or a Sunday School class, volunteering in a prison, jail, hospital, or with a youth group, or stopping to help someone in need. This is exactly what we have been designed for – to walk fruitful paths in the image of God. It sure beats the old destructive paths that were so alluring to me at the time.
How would you describe the spiritual path that you are walking on? Do you believe this is where the Lord wants you?
Discerning God’s will for us is sometimes hard to do. We may know deep down in our heart that He wants us to stay with a difficult situation despite the temptation to leave it. He usually makes our faithfulness pay off if we do. After all, isn’t that what He did with so many of us?
Lord, thank You for being patient with us and helping us to turn our lives around. Use us to bless others and to help those who have strayed turn to You for a life of joy, satisfaction, peace, and love. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.