The other night I opened my Bible to Jeremiah 29:11. I was praying about purpose and God’s will and getting back on track, so I thought that was the perfect place to turn. I read the verse and just kept reading through the book, discovering little nuggets of encouragement.
My absolute favorite discovery of the night was Jeremiah 31:18-22.
18 I have heard Israel saying,
‘You disciplined me severely,
like a calf that needs training for the yoke.
Turn me again to you and restore me,
for you alone are the LORD my God.
19 I turned away from God,
but then I was sorry.
I kicked myself for my stupidity!
I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’
20 “Is not Israel still my son,
my darling child?” says the LORD.
“I often have to punish him,
but I still love him.
That’s why I long for him
and surely will have mercy on him.
21 Set up road signs;
put up guideposts.
Mark well the path
by which you came.
Come back again, my virgin Israel;
return to your towns here.
22 How long will you wander,
my wayward daughter?
For the LORD will cause something new to happen—
Israel will embrace her God.[b]”
My heart couldn’t contain my joy. It described perfectly my recent journey back to my Father’s heart. I had turned from God and was discouraged when I saw how far I’d departed. I asked for restoration and reminded myself that He should be my only God.
And then God…and then God shows up in a big way and reminds me that He still loves me. He still longs for me. He will have mercy on me. He asks me to “come back” and return to what I know is the only way. I love how He says, “Come back, my virgin Israel.” I think virgin was there on purpose. Israel had been wondering and pursuing other gods, yet He still identifies the nation as “virgin,” or pure. How awesome that God sees us like that even when we’ve totally screwed up.
But this has got to be the best part, “How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? I will cause something new to happen- Israel will embrace her God.”
OH MY GOODNESS! I don’t know why this verse has spoken to me so much. I guess it’s cause I just got stuck in a rut and I felt like the same things were happening over and over and no matter how hard I tried I just kept going the wrong direction. YET, God offers promise for my future, well promise for my now. “I will cause something new to happen- [Chelsea] will embrace her God.”
I think the thing is that HE will cause something new to happen. I can’t force something to happen that God doesn’t will. I’ve been trying to do it on my own, and you just can’t have a relationship with someone when it’s one-sided.
“[Chelsea] will embrace her God.” I felt a little bold replacing Israel with my own name, but God was speaking right at me, saying, “Yeah, you messed up. You left me for other gods. You abandoned the very faith that used to be your stronghold. But, there is hope, Chelsea. There is hope, my daughter. Things are going to start happening. I’m gonna change your heart. And soon enough, you’re gonna embrace me instead of run from me.”
And ever since that night a few days ago, I’ve struggled, as everyone does with keeping God first, above everything else. And every time I hear that voice in my head when I contemplate and wonder why I would even bother trying so hard… “Come, my wayward daughter. It’s time, time to embrace your God.”
Isn’t He the best?