Last summer my family was visiting friends in Central Oregon. I decided to go on a run early one of the mornings. While I didn’t really know the area very well, it was just over 4 miles down the road to downtown. I figured if I went straight down the road and turned around to go straight back, I would be fine. It would be the perfect length of run and I wouldn’t have to remember any turns.
I turned on my music and went for it. The first stretch went well and I was relieved to be on my way back. As I ran for a while, I was hopeful that their neighborhood was coming up. Pretty soon, there was a hill. Funny. It seemed a lot steeper going up than I remembered running down. Oh well. I kept running. As I crested the hill, I noticed another big hill. Okay. Now, I really know something is up. This was not familiar.
Thankfully, I had taken my phone for music. My friends’ address was already loaded into the GPS because I had used it to get there. When it loaded, I realized that I had gone over a mile past their neighborhood turnoff. Running over a mile too far meant that I would add 2 extra miles to my run, by the time I made it back to their house. My legs were not pleased.
I started my run going the right way. When I did not check my directions, I went too far and got off course. It took a long time and some uncomfortable moments to get back on track.
Eventually, I got back to where I was supposed to turn off. I made it to their house with extremely tired legs and a relieved heart. It’s the same way for our life. God’s Word is our set of directions. Even if we begin going a wise way on the path of obedience, when we fail to check His commandments, we will get off course. Even when God is faithful to bring us back, it will take time and be uncomfortable. There are consequences when we find ourselves lost.
The Bible tells us about some people who had to take the long way home. God and Moses talked together, in Numbers 14, as the people of Israel had forgotten the faithfulness of God. They had failed to recall their instructions and chose to disobey God through disbelief.
The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.
God was faithful to forgive, but they had to endure the consequences of their choices. They would never see the Promised Land because they did not stay on the path that God established. It would be a completely different generation of the Israelites that would enter into the blessings of His promises.
God promises to always forgive us. He will cleanse us. But, during our time away, we will miss out on blessings that God intends for us to enjoy. Even when we are once again restored, there are things we will never see. Sinful choices cause earthly consequences and remove Heavenly reward. The Israelites were forgiven. God would lead them and provide for them; He would not bless them with the Promised Land.
God is love and He is also holy. He in relationship with us as an all powerful, all loving, all perfect Father. He does not overlook our sin to spare us momentary discomfort. He is concerned with complete restoration and character that reflects Himself, His holiness.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
When there is distance between us and God, the evil one will try to convince us that God does not care. That His anger is against us. Sister, that is a lie from hell. The evil one just knows the longer you stay away, the more likely it is that you will not return.
If you know you are not on God’s path, pull out your directions as quickly as possible. Start studying your Bible and find godly people to speak truth into your situation. Pray and ask God for forgiveness and wisdom. While it may take time and some discomfort to get home, no one wants to stay lost.
God is waiting for you, the child in whom He delights.