“But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back.”--Moses, in Deuteronomy 30, The Message As I continued to read the book of Deuteronomy, I was struck with the graciousness of God when I choose to come back to Him. It's easy for me to feel like I'm too "bad" to welcome back. Of course, I know that's not true, but in real life, I don't always operate by what is true.
But if I am willing to come back on His terms (not mine), He is willing to welcome me back. He offered it to Jonah. He offered it to the apostle Peter. He offered it to the Israelites. When, in the midst of dealing with the consequences of their sin, they come back to Him, He is willing to take them back and restore them to their land.
As I was reading these words, I know that while they are not addressed to me personally, there are principles that are true simply because He is still the same God now as He was then. His character doesn't change. 1 John 1:9 tells me that when I confess my sin and turn back to Him, He will forgive and restore.
Just as I choose to sin, I can choose to return. Returning means:
- Listening obediently
- Keeping His commandments
- Returning to my Lord wholeheartedly
- Holding nothing back
Instead of listening to sin and self, I can choose to listen to Him. But it is not limited to listening only. I need to choose to keep His commandments, even if it goes against my grain, against my preferences, against my comfort. This is not to be done with a grudging spirit but with a wholeheartedness that embraces His ways for my life. I choose to give Him everything and choose not to hold anything back from Him. For His part, He promises to restore me, have compassion on me, forgive me and lead me aright. It really is a no-brainer. But why do I still fight Him?
As I think about the life He has called me into as an adoptive mother of a special needs child, I have a choice. I have developed a hard heart towards Him. I have not listened to His counsel to release my own desires and allow Him to be Lord of my future. I have allowed myself to wallow in self-pity, despair, hopelessness, and bitterness. Even if I manage to do the right things externally, He knows the real state of my heart. I may fool others, but I cannot fool Him.
I think the greatest choice that is before me now is whether I will return with my whole heart and hold nothing back. I can choose to give Him what I'm comfortable with or what is easy, but He asks for more than that. I do not get to call the shots and make the rules here. Either He is my Lord or He is not.
Whether I like it or not, Anah is here to stay. I can keep grumbling in my heart, and end up with a poisoned spirit, sabotaging myself and ruining life for everyone. Or I can open my ears and heart to Him by serving her with joy. I can come back to Him with my whole heart.
Every generation of Israelites had to wrestle with this choice. So do I. And this probably won't be the last time either.
I think I'll take Him up on His offer.