Friday, November 5, 2010

Backsliders Welcome....

I am not sure why this memory has stayed with me all these years. I was probably in jr. high on a long trip with my family. There on the left side of the road we saw it...there was no way to miss it. A very larger church with a banner that spanned the entire length of the building. In huge capital letters it said "Backsliders Welcome"! We really got a kick out it. We laughed and joked and went on our way. But for some reason that sign and it's words have stayed with me.

I was reminded it of it earlier this week while I was reading through 1 Samuel. This summer I embarked on a journey to read through the bible. While I will admit that I am going through it much more SLOWLY than I intended, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the patriarchs, with Moses, and Joshua, and many others. So far the Old Testament has been full of backsliding. God's people, the Israelites, trust Him and seek Him with all of their hearts when they need Him, but than when things start to go their way they begin backsliding into their old ways, adopting the practices of the cultures around them, even to the point of serving other gods. But God, who is so rich in mercy, allows them to come back, to turn from their wickedness and to seek Him once again. Yes, there were consequences, like a whole generation dying in the wilderness, or a whole clan being swallowed up by the ground. But still God remains faithful to His promise and brings them into the land that is flowing with milk and honey.

That brings me to 1 Samuel. The Israelites are once again being swayed by the culture of the day. Despite the fact that God has delivered them from their enemies time and time again, they decide they want to be like everyone else.

They want a king. Samuel warns them heavily, much like I warn by boys that being too rough while wrestling can lead to getting really hurt. But like my boys, the Israelites decide that they want it their way. (BTW, Karter ended up with a bloody nose and lip from wrestling yesterday) So with God's permission and leadership Samuel anoints Saul as the new King.

But later, much like my boys, the Israelites realize that Samuel's warnings were correct. They realize that they have sinned and done evil in the sight of the Lord, when God sends a huge storm filled with lightning and thunder in the middle of the dry season. As they stand face to face with their sin and the power of almighty God, the Israelites beg Samuel to pray to God on their behalf and because of their wickedness.

This is the time when backsliding would be so easy. Why is it that in the times when we know we have failed in our relationship with the Lord and that sin is present in our lives that going back to our old way of life seems so much easier than coming to God in our brokenness and allowing His mercy to sweep over us?

These are the words in 1 Samuel that really tugged at my heart and brought me back to that sign from so many years ago.

"Do not be afraid," Samuel replied. "You have done all this evil, yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of His great name the Lord will not reject his people because He was pleased to make you His own." 1 Samuel 12:20-22

Backsliders really are welcome! For even when we know that we have done wrong or failed to make God our 1st priority He bids us to come to Him, to serve Him, to seek Him, and to turn away from those other things that we have made gods in our lives. In spite of knowing all, and being able to see that we would indeed disappoint Him...He was pleased to make us His own!

Oh how He loves us!

1 comment:

Nana's Nuggets said...

Hi! jenna, WoW! I love this! You know in my early Christain Walk, I was attending a church that used this phrase all the time! A little Baptist church! How funny this phrase really does make sense, and you did a good job in explaning it! Loved it! Have a Happy:) Saturday!