"Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."
When I was little and I got into trouble, the last thing I wanted to do was to go home. I knew what was waiting for me—trouble and shouting and punishment. That was why I would do almost anything to put off the evil hour—to avoid going home.
It's a pretty normal response, right? We do evil, and then we run away from the place where we did it. We avoid the person we wronged, because we don't want to face up to them and their anger or disappointment. We drive a different way rather than pass the building where we got fired. We won't go "home," wherever that may be, because nothing good is waiting for us, and we know it.
But that's what makes our Isaiah reading so strange. God says to us, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." Have compassion on him?! Abundantly pardon?! What could God be thinking? That's not a normal homecoming. Could this really happen?
But those are the words that the Holy Spirit says to us. And so we peek up and around from the places we are hiding, just a little—wondering if maybe, just maybe, God might mean it. Maybe, just maybe, He really won't yell—won't condemn—won't give us what we know we deserve. Maybe we can go home again, can return to the Lord, can find peace and joy and love again—in spite of who we are and what we've done. Maybe God is serious about His offer.
And we discover that He is. He wants us home again, wants His children forgiven and cleansed and happy and home—wants this so much that He lay down His own life to make it possible. That is what Jesus was doing when He came into this world, looking for all the lost ones, all of us who did wrong and then ran away. He came to bring us home. And if the only way to make that happen involved suffering and death? He was willing to pay that price. He paid it for me—and He paid it for you.
God wants you home again. He wants you home forever—not as a child on probation until you do the next bad thing and run off again. He wants you home forever—always with Him, always being forgiven, always being changed, bit by bit, into the image of God's own Son Jesus. And so God calls you to Him: "Come home. Return to the LORD, that I may have compassion on you, and to your God, for I will abundantly pardon." That is what is waiting for us. Let's listen to Jesus, put our hand in His, and go home.
Dear Father, help me to live with You forever as Your forgiven child. Amen.
Dr. Kari Vo
1. When you got into trouble as a child, were you afraid to go home? Why or why not?Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
2. When in your life did you expect judgment, but instead you found mercy and forgiveness?
3. How easy or difficult is it for you to trust in God's forgiveness?
When I was little and I got into trouble, the last thing I wanted to do was to go home.