For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:Psalm 95:7-8
The shrieks from outside can’t be good. In fact, they can only mean one thing: she’s out again. Small Black Dog yelps in distress that her companion has jumped the fence, begging me to do something. I dart to the front yard, instantly at the end of the fence yelling at the top of my lungs for Big Brown Dog. I get her attention quickly, but what she does next breaks my heart. She brings her sprint to a complete stop, looks me straight in the eyes, and starts running again as if I never said a word.
I yell her name a few more times, pleading with her to come home to no avail. Frustrated and hurt, I return to my desk behind the window overlooking the front yard. Moments later, a brownish-grayish figure enters my line of vision. She’s at the end of the quarter-mile drive, heading towards the highway. A car flashes by at sixty miles an hour, and I can’t bear to think of what could happen if I don’t go after her.
I jump in my car, speed down the driveway, and pray I’ll get to her before she gets to the road. She barks and then cowers as I fling the driver’s door open and walk towards her. She knows she’s done wrong. I don’t really care at the moment, though; I just want to get her to safety.
I carry all forty pounds of her to the car, and relief washes over me; frustrations subside.
Still, I wish I understood:
Why didn’t you listen? Why did you run from me?
It wasn’t that she didn’t hear me; she made conscious choice to disobey. And that’s the part that breaks my heart. She didn’t know the dangers that await from roaming beyond the fence. She didn’t understand that my cries for her to come home stemmed from my desire to protect her. She heard my voice, but she went her own way.
All of this seems so oddly familiar. Haven’t I heard God clearly and still turned my face from Him, ignoring His voice, disregarding His desire to protect me, running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction?
I navigate the curves of the driveway towards my house, vagabond dog in tow, and this sobering truth becomes real: it is only because of God’s mercy that I have not been consumed (Lamentations 3:22). It is only because of His rescue that I have not been utterly destroyed.
We’ve all been rescued from something, whether we realize it or not. We’ve been saved from certain destruction countless times, and I praise God for that.
We’re told in the Psalms not to harden our hearts when we hear God’s voice, and I hope and pray we don’t. But on the off-chance that we do — what happens? What should we do if we find ourselves on the run, afraid to turn around?
The answer is simple: Come home.
We don’t need to beat ourselves up, hating ourselves for not listening. We don’t need to let Shame, Fear, and Accusation keep us away. We need to cast down thoughts like:
I’m not worth saving
I’m too far gone
What if God doesn’t accept me?
God doesn’t care if I keep running or not
These thoughts will only keep us separated from our Father. Instead, when we find ourselves in disobedience, we need to repent and remind ourselves of His mercy, of His character. We need to stand on the truth of who He truly is — not of who we feel like He is in the moment.
Jesus is the same yesterday, tomorrow, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and we can trust that the Lord’s character is reflected in the father of the prodigal son [who essentially told his father he wished he were dead, took his inheritance early, and then lost it all because of gambling and prostitution], who rejoiced over his son’s return, rather than turning him away. In the same way, the Lord will greet us with compassion and rejoice over our return as well (Luke 15:11-32). It’s true that we might’ve done wrong, might’ve made terrible mistakes. But the God we serve? He’s the God of forgiveness, the Lord of second chances. It’s safe to run to Him.
All you need to do is call out to Him.
For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.Psalm 86:5
He has plenty of mercy for those who run to Him! Running away will never get us where we need to go, but running to Him, to the throne of grace, will get us the mercy and grace we need (Hebrews 4:16). So today if we hear His voice, I pray that we run to Him. May we respond in repentance if needed and in gratitude always.
I pray that this Easter Sunday, the mercy of God will fall afresh on you and surprise you in new ways, and that you’ll be surprised by His mercies Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday too…they’re new every single day! 🙂 (Lamentations 3:23)