On a recent Sunday morning, my husband and I left our house at 7:30 a.m. to attend worship. Normally there is little traffic at that hour. At the stop light to get out of our neighborhood we saw emergency lights and a couple of police officers stopping traffic. I knew we had a race that Sunday, actually a triathlon, but had no idea that every single way out of our subdivision would be blocked…for 30 solid minutes!
The longer we sat there, the madder I got. How could they expect us to just sit there and not move until every single biker went by in front of us and then came BACK in front of us! Are you kidding me? Who planned this? Why didn’t they think about people trying to get to church?
When we finally got to cross the intersection, after ALL bikers were gone, I had a really quick course correction. After complaining for 30 minutes about this situation, it was as though the Lord said, “And you are heading where? To do what? What a great testimony that would be to anyone outside the car about church people!” Ouch! Too true.
It’s been a habit of mine to continually pray, “God, do NOT let me get away with sin. Stop me immediately and call me to repent.” And, boy, did He! (By the way, I pray this over my loved ones as well!) I don’t want to get away with one sin that leads to another sin that leads……you know. And even though I wasn’t exactly praying that as the bikers kept coming in front of us, God knew my heart and answered that prayer I’ve prayed so often!
Yes we were late, and yet…what a reminder about how unbelievers see believers. And how how attitudes can turn them away from ever coming to know the Truth.
I am so grateful that God forgives my short comings, no matter how small or huge they are. All I have to do is ask and turn away from them.
To top it all, our pastor preached on 2 Chronicles 7:13-15:
“If I shut the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on my people, and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. My eyes will now be open and my ears attentive to prayer from this place.”
Humility, prayer, seeking His face and turning away from sin. That is what it takes to heal Israel’s land…and ours.
I am concerned about my country, I want it to change. I want people to know Jesus. Then I act like I did, and, as I still do, way to often!
But then, so did the Israelites. God was speaking these words in 2 Chronicles to Solomon, but don’t you think the principle He is setting forth here is applicable to us and our land?
My chronological Bible reading plan had me in Ezra 9 right after this. God chose to preserve a remnant of His chosen Israelites even though their disobedience to His commands put them in the wilderness for 40 years after their enslavement in Egypt, and after their 70 year Babylonian captivity. They were leased from Babylon to go back to Jerusalem and they still allowed the surrounding pagans to influence them and shape their lifestyles…again and again and again.
So, here we are today, similar to cultural problems in earlier civilizations for hundreds of years, and I wonder…is the biggest reason because of us as Christians who are blending in, not walking in holiness and love? Is it because of my impatience and anger when things don’t go according to my plan and others witness that?
I can gripe and complain about the way things are, or I can humble myself, pray for my country and for unbelievers (who by the way, do not KNOW they are lost!), seek God’s face continually and turn away from my sins, big and small. And when I do, God hears, He forgives…every single time.
I recently saw this quote and was SO reminded of how much God loves us, no mater what we do to “send Him away.” How He seeks the lost over and over. And how He repeatedly forgives His children when we ask:
This captured my heart since I love the beach and have often watched the endless waves over and over. I knew I couldn’t stop them even if I wanted to. I was reminded of God’s sovereignty over all of creation. And how His love it eternal. And how He pursues us over and over no matter how we treat Him! I pray I will not be so quick to forget this and how everyone needs to know His love.
Yes, I blew it, and yet He forgave me…again. May my actions attract the lost, not repel them from our Lord.
Watch next weeks post for more on what I’m learning from Ezra!