2 Chronicles 30: 6b, 9 ‘People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that He may return to you who are left…If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is great and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him’’
2 Timothy 2:13 ‘If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself’
By the time one has read a few chapters in the book of Judges, a pattern is made clear regarding how God relates with His people. He blesses them physically with health, financially with health, emotionally with peace and joy, socially with relationships, and spiritually with rites and tokens of worship. But God does not hesitate to withdraw His grace, and mercy if His people choose idols and sinful living over Him. And no matter how comfortable life has been, any child of God is bound to find the extreme discomfort of hardship and misfortune if one makes the mistake of choosing idols and sinning over God and His ways.
The Psalmist recounts this pattern so well in Psalm 107. I love the refrain in verse 8 that is repeated in verses 15, 21, and 31. Verses 4-9 read ‘They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way: they found no city to dwell in 5. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them 6. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses 7. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. 8. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 9. For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness ’
Isaiah settles how God would want us to live consistently in Chapter 30:15 ‘In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength…’. And in Isaiah 32: 17, he teaches ‘The fruit of that righteousness will be peace: its effect will be quietness and confidence forever’
What truth! What rest we would have if we listened. I see that the most significant point that needs to be negotiated in this life is the primary question of faith in God. Is eternity real, and what should be our response to it? If we choose to believe the bible, we still have to negotiate what to do about the lordship of Jesus Christ, in all the areas of our contemporary living. Do we keep debating and choosing a lifestyle that is at variance with the salvation He gives or do we accept the fact that He is entitled to set the rules of the game of life, if we choose the eternal salvation He offers?
If we choose to believe and obey Him, we are likely to find tests that cause us to question our faith and His sovereignty at different turns. We soon learn to appreciate that life includes blips – because His word teaches this. But we also find that the internal pillar of faith will become the integrating cord that directs all of life’s choices, and the point of reference for all victories and testimonies.
In accepting the tenets of salvation, we negotiate hard times by intensifying prayer, and continuing to look to His hand for deliverance and help. And when we receive deliverance and blessings, we turn again to God to give Him the worship and glory. Psalm 87:7 (NIV) says this simply and poignantly ‘all my fountains are in you’.
To put it simply, our encounters and negotiation with the eternal never stops. Through this, we increase in humility and submission, and learn how to meet all of life’s situations with learning of scripture, knowledge of its power, and understanding of its workings. What peace flows through our lives as we live with the eternal word as our rule! That is when we can agree with the sons of faith in Hebrews 11:33 ‘who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions’ that we seek a better country, a heavenly kingdom from which God is not ashamed to be called our God. It is a life lived in the perfect mix of the lordship of Jesus Christ, and the sonhood of those who choose to submit to God, one day at a time, no matter how tough.
Prayer: Lord, help us to return to you and stay in your hand. How awful a time we have when we imagine that there is any life that is better away from you.