July 22, 2010

Return to Me

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.
              - Isaiah 44:22

You know, when I typed in "return to me" to my Bible search, I expected a few certain verses. But this one was new to me. "Return to me, for I have redeemed you." Wow. 

This verse spoke to me because I immediately thought about what we do when we're in the wrong and we know it. You know, let's say you're 17 and your parents tell you not to go out driving past curfew, certainly not with 8 other kids in the car, and definitely not faster than the speed limit. And of course you do. And, because you can't see past the other 3 people in the front seat and you're going 65 mph on a back road, you blow a stop sign and get sideswiped by someone you didn't even see coming.

What do you do? 

Well, I'm gonna think that one of your first thoughts is that you are going to leave home. Immediately. Without even going home to pack. Why? Because you just know how much trouble you're going to be in when your parents find out. And wouldn't living on the streets be better than the shame and punishment you would find at home?

That might be a bit of a hyperbole, but I firmly believe there are people in the world right now living in terrible conditions because they were too afraid/stubborn/rebellious to deal with something in their lives, and they figured that leaving home would be the best thing to do. Or put it this way--perhaps someone hasn't left home, but they've abandoned their family by crawling inside a fifth of vodka every night. Or by going to girlie shows. Or having an affair with the gardner. 

In each of those ways they've "left" what God has described as a well-balanced life, haven't they? And what happens when they realize the inability of these behaviors to fulfill their desires? Guilt, shame... and often a jump even deeper into that life. Why? Because once you're into a bad habit, a destructive lifestyle, the voice in your head tends to be one that vacillates between justifying what you're doing, and calling you a reject, a loser, a whore.

There's nothing that says redemption in those words.

So we hide from ourselves, we hide from God, and we keep doing what we know we shouldn't.

And I'm not just talking about someone who lives a life of drug-dealing or prostitution. We each are doing something in our lives right now that God would like us to stop doing. I can almost guarantee that. I know the habits I have. I know that I eat through my emotions, and mask my real feelings with sugar. And even as I reach for the ice cream I'll think "this is wrong, you don't need the calories, you're not even hungry." Followed by "Hey, it's my ice cream. I can do whatever I want." And then, after I've made my way halfway through the bowl: "You're such a fat loser. Look at you eating all that crap. No wonder no one loves you. You may as well go eat the rest of it now."

Yeah, welcome to my world. But I didn't put this there to get your sympathy; rather to show you that there are times that all of us will leave what we know is right. And the devil, he likes that. You will be assigned a demon to sit on your shoulder and whisper those horrible, untrue words into your ear until you begin to believe it and say it yourself. 

What then are we to do?

"Return to me," God says, "For I have redeemed you."

It's so crazy. We're the ones who left. We're the ones who messed up. And here God is saying "I know, but I got this. Someone has to pay, so I sent my Son to die. It's ok though, because He's stronger than the devil, and he'll come back to life. Jesus will return to me, and through him, so can you."

But... why?

I know, I know, we shouldn't question it, right? But when you've been listening to the lies of the enemy, you need some truth to clear your head. So read the next verse of Isaiah:

Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this;
shout aloud, O earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
you forests and all your trees,
for the LORD has redeemed Jacob,
he displays his glory in Israel.
              -Isaiah 44:23

What a beautiful verse. Sing for joy for the LORD has redeemed you. And why? Because "he displays his glory in Israel." 

God redeemed you to display His glory IN you. He loves you so much that when He created you, it was with the express purpose of showing His glory in you and through you. And even though we have walked away from Him, He calls to us to return, so that He can continue the good work He started in us. 

Do we deserve it? Of course we don't. But given the option of staying in a downward spiral towards death and destruction, or returning to the One who created us, and receiving His redemption, which sounds better?

And I'm not gonna lie--it won't be perfect right away. God can and will heal people miraculously of addictions, but if that doesn't happen to you, don't despair. Just put your hope in Him and carry on every day, knowing you are getting closer to it. I certainly haven't gotten over my food issues (granted I don't know that I've fully returned to God on this yet) but He has given me some mastery over my eating habits. I'm 6 pounds lighter to prove it. :)


  1. I love that verse! I really needed this today. I may not have strayed far..but my thinking the last few days has been "stinking thinking" as my Mom would say and I totally needed to remember that I am redeemed and he has my back.

    Thanks gal! Congrats on the loss too!

  2. That part Return to Me sounds like a good title for a book. I really need to take this post and these verses and work on myself. I don't know how many times in the last month I've said the words, I hate myself, and really felt some umph behind it. I know it's self-destructing and I want to fix it.


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