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Returning To God

I’m thinking a little bit today about the Old Testament idea of turning and returning to God.  Many times in the Bible, we are encouraged to turn to God.  But the Bible has something interesting to say about what happens when we return to God.

 When we turn to God, he turns to us.  This is seen in Malachi 3:7, “Return to me, and I will return to you.”  It’s the same word – when we make a move toward God, God makes a move toward us.

 This is helpful for a very simple reason – humans are easily turned.  We are easily distracted from God and we easily forget about Him.  Jeremiah 3:14 encourages the people to “return, turning sons of Israel.”  Here again, “return” and “turning” are from the same root.  The verse is calling the easily turned people back to God.

 It’s not just Israel, though; Israel’s story is very often our story.  They had hearts that were easily turned, and my heart is often easily turned.  But, surprisingly, God turns as well – but He turns to us.  We are never so far that He won’t return to us if we will simply return to Him.

 Sometimes, we make a mess out of things (well, OK, I make a mess out of things – I probably shouldn’t speak for anyone else).  We damage our relationships with children, spouses, co-workers – but especially we damage our relationship with God.  But God is never so far away that we can’t return, and God is never so far away that He will refuse to return to us.

  1. November 11, 2009 at 9:48 am

    John, I’m curious about God “turning” more towards us after we turn towards him. Can you take application from the opposite. When we turn from God he turns from us? That might be a tough pill to swallow for many of the “God is Love” crowd. My grandma used to say no matter how many steps you take away from God, it’s only one step back to Him.

  2. John Lemke
    November 11, 2009 at 10:10 am

    God never turns from us in the same way that we turn from Him. The “turning” and “returning” that we do (again, they are both the same word) has both an ethical and relational component. So it is not just about how we feel about God, but what we do about it as well; we have to live in a way that is compatible with His demands.

    He never turns from us in that same way because His character never changes, thus His actions do not change. That’s why your grandma’s quote is so good.

    But God certainly gets angry and wants us to come back to Him. So we cannot live however we want and expect God to just “be there” whenever we want Him to be. Unfortunately, many people I know think just that. They live in a way that is incompatible with God’s call on their lives, then try to get God to do what they want – and they don’t understand when He does not answer.

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