I remember a time when I couldn’t wait to wake up and spend time with God in the morning. The summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school was a turning point in my relationship with God. I had experienced the misery of fighting with and running from God much of my 9th grade year and it came to a climax in Glorieta, New Mexico. Centerfuge camp was the last stand of my Armageddon campaign of self-rule against God. The battle didn’t last long, and my surrender was unconditional. God changed my life that night in Glorieta, and the days following were unlike any I had experienced before, spiritually. I was at peace. I was on fire. I was fully devoted.
But it didn’t take long before the devotion waned. What started out as consistent reading of God’s word and spending time with God in prayer, became back-seat to other things. My time with God was sporadic, and although not absent, it was not the priority of my life.
It brings to mind what God told Jeremiah to tell the people of Jerusalem. “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the first fruits of His harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 2:2-3)
It’s as though God is saying, “I remember your devotion. You’re not devoted now, but I remember how you used to be devoted to Me before you allowed the cares of the world to overwhelm you and the idols of the world to become the pursuit of your life. I remember how you used to love Me as a bride loves her husband; how you trusted Me in desert places where all you had was Me to lean into. But that’s all changed now. I’m wondering though, what did you need that I did not abundantly give you? What of the priceless treasures found in Me, that were yours, was not enough that you felt you had to go and chase after worthless things? What more did you think you would gain? What pleasure did you believe you would find? What caused you to forget all the way I led you in your dark moments, and loved you with an everlasting love? What happened that you chose to forsake the Source of your joy and life, only to try and go it on your own; finding yourself empty, broken, and desperate?”
Maybe you’re there right now. It could be that you are thinking, “I remember when I was devoted. I remember when I was on fire for Christ, wanting nothing more than just to know Him and spend time with Him. But now, in comparison to Christ, I am chasing after worthless things. I’ve turned from the joy and life He gives, and I’m trying to go it on my own.” But you don’t won’t to stay where you are. So, what do you do?
Return. God told Israel, “Return, faithless Israel.” In the same way, you need to return. And here’s the promise of God for those who return to Him: “I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful.” (Jeremiah 3:12). That is so good! God is merciful. He is gracious. He is loving. He longs for you to return. But returning doesn’t happen without confession and repentance. Confessing that you have wandered and that your devotion has waned. And repenting of sin, which is having a sincere broken heart over your sin, and in doing so turning back to Him.
Although you may feel a thousand miles away from Him, it only takes on step of turning back to lead you down the road of devotion. After all, He is the Father who runs to embrace the prodigal who returns.
At this time in my life, and only by God’s grace, I find myself devoted to Him and wanting to know Him even more. I look forward to waking up just to spend time with Him; and not just in the morning, but experiencing His presence throughout the day. Don’t get me wrong, the enemy fights with demonic zeal to lure my heart to chase after worthless things. But devotion to Christ is worth fighting for, and deepening.
So for those needing to return, turn around and take a step towards Christ. He is gracious. He is merciful. He is waiting. And as you spend time with Him, trust Him, and follow after Him, you will find that your devotion will grow stronger.