June 2, 2013
The God Who Waits for Our Return
Thus says the Lord: “Will they fall and not rise? Will one turn away and not return?”
One of the wondrous aspects of God’s character is the love with which God waits for us to turn back to God. Only God could have made it possible for us to return, of course, but since God has done so, a failure to return is contrary to all wisdom, and even to common sense. Listen to the words with which God implored Judah in Jeremiah's day: “People of Jerusalem, when you stumble and fall, you get back up, and if you take a wrong road, you turn around and go back. So why do you refuse to come back to me? Why do you hold so tightly to your false gods?” (Jeremiah 8:4,5 Contemporary English Version).
The God who waits for our return is a God who has promised us forgiveness. We can’t fathom the value of what God had to sacrifice to make this forgiveness available, but we can stand in awe of the sacrifice and its underlying love. More than that, we can determine that our gratitude will be shown in our deeds. We can turn back to God, grounding all our hopes in the goodness of God’s character and living out the balance of our days in commitment to God’s truth. However foolishly we have forsaken God, God remains the God God has always been. Long ago God revealed God’s self to Moses as “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin . . . “ (Exodus 34:6,7). “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him” (Daniel 9:9).
But the God who waits for our return is also a God who has promised us rest, and rest is surely what we need. Although we were designed for joy, most of us have worn ourselves out in counterfeit pleasures and substitute satisfactions. Hardly even knowing what we were looking for, we’ve been looking for joy in all the wrong places, and with truly tragic results. Our foolishness has worn us out. But God has made possible our return to God, and it’s only in such a return that the prospect of real joy can spring to life. Here is where our homesick hearts should come to rest. Here, at last, is where we find a perfect Friend.
There can be no happiness equal to the joy of finding a heart that understands.