A Cure for the Wayward Soul

Photo Credits: graceponderings.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
graceponderings.blogspot.com

Jeremiah 2:5-6, 8, 13, 17, 19, 31

5 This is what the Lord says: “What fault could your ancestors have possibly found in me that they strayed so far from me? They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.  6 They did not ask: ‘Where is the LORD who delivered us out of Egypt, who brought us through the wilderness, through a land of desert sands and rift valleys, through a land of drought and deep darkness, through a land in which no one travels, and where no one lives?’ 8 Your priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those responsible for teaching my law did not really know me. Your rulers rebelled against me. Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal. They all worshiped idols that could not help them. 13 Do so because my people have committed a double wrong: they have rejected me, the fountain of life-giving water, and they have dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns which cannot even hold water. 17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel, by deserting the LORD your God when he was leading you along the right path. 19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment. Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you. Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful it was for you to reject me, the LORD your God, to show no respect for me,” says the Lord GOD who rules over all.  31 You people of this generation, listen to what the LORD says. “Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel? Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you? Why then do you say, ‘We are free to wander. We will not come to you any more?’

Jeremiah 3:22-23

22 Come back to me, you wayward people. I want to cure your waywardness. Say, ‘Here we are. We come to you because you are the LORD our God.  23 We know our noisy worship of false gods on the hills and mountains did not help us. We know that the LORD our God is the only one who can deliver Israel.

Jeremiah 4:3-4b  

3 Yes, the LORD has this to say to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Like a farmer breaking up hard unplowed ground, you must break your rebellious will and make a new beginning; just as a farmer must clear away thorns lest the seed is wasted, you must get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives. 4b you must genuinely dedicate yourselves to the LORD and get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to me, people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

Jeremiah 6:16

Oh, if we could always be faithful and never wander off, like stubborn sheep.  The words of a familiar hymn envelop my mind as I write this; “Prone to Wander, how I feel it.  Prone to leave the one I love!”  As I was reading from the pages of Jeremiah this morning, it occurred to me how ludicrous it is to leave the only One Who knew us before we were born and has always been faithful to us.

When my children were little I could not understand why they would continue to disobey when I had rewards for their obedience.  What was so gratifying about sin?  Why was it so tempting?  Often when I would have to discipline my children, the LORD would speak to my heart about the parallels in my own life, when I would go my own way.  Humbled.  Now I understood, and realized my own waywardness in my soul that needed to be fought daily.

Why would we leave the One Who knows us completely, Who protects us and makes promises that He fulfills?  What did we think our quest for rest would achieve?  Surely not the sorrow and emptiness, the guilt and division in our hearts or separation from our Savior.  No, if we knew the truth about our false idol’s promises, we would never search after them in the first place.

We leave because we are not patient and want our needs met now.  We replace the living God with a cheap substitute that cannot satisfy.  We do not come to Him.  We run to our solutions, instead.  Madness.  What better option do we really have?

We leave because we possibly do not really know Him.  Even the priests who were responsible for teaching God’s law did not know Him.  In fear and trepidation may we search our hearts and reject religion and be sure that we know God.

Despite our faithlessness, when the consequences start to hurt, we can run back to Him.  And He welcomes us.  What a kind God who allows pain to draw us back to Himself.  What a great, forgiving God we have!!  Maybe we feel overwhelmed by the choices we have made, perhaps subtle decisions to go our own stubborn way, and we do not know how to really change and be consistent in our relationship with God.  God offers through Jeremiah a way back to Him… All beginning with the letter “R”…because I like alliteration.

Recognize we all do not seek after Him.  Don’t make excuses or try to sanitize our sinfulness.  We all fall short and do not worship God with the zeal He deserves.

Run to Him.  Really run to Him.  Acknowledge our need of Him – only He can meet our every need.

Repent.  Turn.  Break our rebellious will and begin again.

Get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives.  Get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to God.  Not sure what those things are?  Ask Him.  He will make it known.

Remember who we are and who we were made for.

Genuinely re-dedicate ourselves to the LORD.

Not seeking Him is an action – the sin of omission.  Saying we believe in God is not the same as actively going to Him.  God has not left us without a plan to return to Him.  He uses His mouthpieces, His Word, His Holy Spirit to draw us back to Him.  God help us to resist the temptation to be lulled into comfortable complacency and to run instead into His arms day after day, moment by moment.

Lord, how I love You!  Help me to stay near and to abide in You.  Open my eyes to understand and consider the path that lies ahead and to never live in autopilot.  You are the answer to the longing in our souls – You alone.

Thoughtful Thursday: Guarding our way

Proverbs 21:16, 23 – The one who wanders from the way of wisdom will end up in the company of the departed.  23  The one who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his life from troubles.

Proverbs 22:3,5 – A shrewd person sees danger and hides himself, but the naive keep right on going and suffer for it.  5  Thorns and snares are in the path of the perverse, but the one who guards himself keeps far from them.”

Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life.

 

Perhaps it is not so thoughtful to post a day late, but you were on my mind.  I could not let my favorite day of posting pass me by – I love the book of Proverbs!  So, despite a day busier than days oughta be, here is my post on Proverbs.

The spirit of every human being longs to be known – longs to find a safe haven of acceptance.  We long to rest from the need of having to prove ourselves yet again to anyone else, or having to be guarded . . . yet we dare not let our guard down and rest from this aspect of our walk with God in our relentless pursuit of being more like Him.

When I first came to know the LORD, so many things that fall short of the glory of God became evident in my character.  It was humbling and overwhelming, but exciting!  Grateful that I could now see these burdens in my life and submit to God to change me, walking with God was an adventure.  But time marches on and we forget what we were saved from.  We forget the need to separate ourselves from things in this world that can pull us away.  We take for granted the high price of our salvation and perhaps consider our new faith impenetrable.  Slowly we begin to entrust our walk to others to define our boundaries.

Guarding our way seems old fashioned, prudish even.  There is a mentality today that says we should not be guarded, for that might appear legalistic or judgmental.  Living a guarded life differs from a cookie cutter philosophy which mandates that everyone be the same so all are comfortable.  Is such a mentality biblical?  You decide.  What do the Scriptures above mean by guarding our way?  Assuredly, it is not having a personal bodyguard and living in a state of paranoia, but it is living carefully.  You risk-takers out there are shutting me off right now, but hang in there.  It means there is a filter I run my thoughts and my actions through.  I cannot rest from seeking diligently to know that God is pleased with my current course, or dare to pridefully assume that just because I have in the past walked rightly with God that I do not need to examine myself afresh each day.

It is not popular to guard ourselves.  Guarding means I do not seek to live in a way to please man.  It means I do not just blindly trust others because I do not want to create waves.  It also means in humility that I do not think my own opinion is more weighty than others, or my way is right because it has been in the past – but that I carefully submit all to God before trudging ahead.

There was a very difficult season in my life in which Proverbs 22:3 was driven home.  I had trusted someone so implicitly that when I saw evidence that their character was not what they had put forth as an image, I could not believe it and for a moment thought I did not have a right to discern whether that person should hold the same place in my life.  They were sorry for their grievous sin that had crushed my world.  It was not popular by some to walk in wisdom and guard my way, which might appear judgmental and unforgiving.  But in that moment of revelation, God in His mercy helped me to see that forgiveness did not mean allowing someone to wield control in my life who had abused me and loved ones.  They had proven by their actions that they were not trustworthy – in fact, I would suffer if I continued to trust their intentions rather than their actions.  Just because someone claims with their mouth that they are godly in a moment of self righteousness, does not mean I should blindly accept it.

In this moment you might feel like ultimately we would all not be able to have any relationships if we guard ourselves from anyone who causes us pain.  That would be a wrong extreme response and I confess I have been there. We need to be vulnerable to one another but strike a balance of also guarding our way.  It is healthy to do so and unhealthy to be codependent and allow someone power to go unchecked in your life.  It is, in fact, loving one another to help us see our blind spots, versus flattery which placates the weaknesses we see in one another.  Guarding our way and having convictions from the LORD is far different from legalism which imposes its personal convictions on others.  We must guard the way God has set before us and be flexible enough to believe He might have a completely different plan for someone else, not to be judged by us.

Christ made himself vulnerable to humans by being born as a helpless babe, yet in John 2:23 it says “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people.”  No one is without the need to be examined.  We are weak and cannot put confidence in our own flesh.  This does not mean we have to by hyper-analytical, rather open and teachable to correction and also discerning of all that is around us.  Like the Bereans, we should test the word shared with us, not to judge and condemn, but to guard and ensure our path is still the narrow one, still headed due north.  The stakes are too high to naively believe someone else is guarding our way and in a moment of fatigue put down our responsibility to do so.  It is not wrong or mean to place boundaries for yourself that keep you safe and mentally healthy.  Your very life and walk with God depend on it.

Lord, we are not capable of seeing all the dangers to our soul.  Help us to guard our way and to do so in humility.  May we not judge others or consider ourselves better, but only be filled with gratitude that you reveal these things to us.