I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me (Is 1:2b)
Can you relate? I certainly can! Blessed with compliant elementary-age children, I experienced their coming-of-age years like a death. My sweet children had disappeared and I found myself staring at my defiant teen and wondering, “Who are you and what have you done to my daughter?”
We can take heart because God knows how we feel. He felt the same way with His children, as this opening line from Isaiah 1:2 expresses. Just as we struggle with our children, so God struggled with His people. God continues: Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care—but Israel doesn’t know its master. My people don’t recognize My care for them … They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the Lord. (Is 1:3-4 NLT)
The Old Testament is a story of how God cared for His chosen people, Israel, brought them into a fruitful land, and made them into a great nation. And then He watched them turn their backs, walk their own path, plug up their ears, argue that their way is better.
God felt rejected, heartbroken. Some days, that is exactly how I feel.
Our children are like our hearts walking around outside of our body. We recall them as toddlers and long for that unquestioning love, the obedience after an eye-to-eye conversation, or the short time-out. We remember the hugs after a tearful confession and all was well between us. Where did that child go? But even now, tall and defiant, we cannot deny them. They are part of our heart.
But wait, don’t I do the same thing to God?
I tell that white lie (“it’s almost true”!), share a story about a mutual friend (one better kept unsaid), eat that second piece of cake, buy the trinket (after my husband said the finances are tight this month), to name a few. I can ignore God and love other things, prioritize them in front of Him---I mean, everything from my job, my home, my pastimes, and even my children, often come before my spending time with God.
Consider your heart, broken from a wayward child. That is how God feels about us. And all He wants from us is to come home.
“Come, My child,” He calls us. Over and over, in both the Old and New Testament, He calls. The rules He gives us are for our good, for long life and peace with others, who after all, are His children too. The rules are not for entrance into His kingdom: we are already His; we are already there! Instead, like teens, we think we know best, we fail to come to Him for guidance, for comfort, for forgiveness, and restoration.
He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:10-12, NLT)
Maybe if we were quicker to come to Him with our wayward lives and our wayward children, God could give us just what we need, just when we need it.
God longs for us to return to Him, just as we long for peace and closeness from with children. His story of the world ends in Revelation with an invitation, showing Him waiting for us. Indeed, He stands at the door of our lives and knocks, asking us to open to Him.
Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. (Revelation 3:20)
He is knocking now, waiting for you. Do you hear?
Barbara Ruglio is a wife of over 30 years, a mom to two twenty-something daughters, and a grandmother to a darling and very active boy. She has never written a book, considers her job extremely ordinary, and says her house is not looking much like the magazines. Barbara does ministry in her local church in a small and ordinary way, but with all her heart because she loves the church and both the new and old friends in it. Barbara blogs at http://barbararuglio.blogspot.com/. Her prayer is that her writings to Jesus inspire you to a deeper connection with Him too.