Our God Longs For Us

 

I have heard the God of the Old Testament referred to as being distant, cold and judgemental. Many say they prefer the God of the New Testament, the wooing, tender-hearted God who stands with his arms wide open to welcome anyone and everybody home,  no questions asked. I must confess that in my childhood and early teen years, I carried the same view. Even after I entered into a deeper relationship with God, I still carried this misbelief. I am sure if I had sat down and thought about it, I would have realized that the core premise of my thesis was flawed; I knew God was unchanging and he was perfect in all his ways. If God were truly perfect and unchanging, surely logic would dictate that an unchanging, perfect God did not change his character, his being and his passions between the last verse of Malachi and the first verse of Matthew. Those things that stirred his heart in the Old Testament stirred his heart in the New Testament and vice-versa. "For I am the Lord, I change not" Malachi 3:6

God began dismantling my false beliefs by leading me to read the book of Genesis, then the book of Exodus over one weekend as I recovered from a cold. I set aside my study bible and picked up a paraphrase version, written in modern English. I ignored the chapter breaks and simply read the books in the same manner I would read any other story. When I felt tempted to over-analyze, I felt the Lord nudge me. "Read on, I've got more to show you, reserve your judgement until you hear the whole story!" The familiar accounts of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Esau, Rebecca, Joseph and his brothers, the squabbling children of Israel in the desert all took on a new meaning.

At times, I had to set the bible down and compose myself; I was overwhelmed by God's desire to be in relationship with his creation. It broke my heart as I saw those he loved most betray him. And yet, God kept on loving....

Deut 7:7 (NIV) The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you...

He kept on hoping and he kept on forgiving.

Exodus 34:6-7a (NIV) The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

I was astounded at the blatant sin and rebellion of his creation. I was stunned by the haughty disdain that often met his sincere overtures of reconciliation. His heart burned with a holy, passionate longing for his people, he longed that their hearts be completely committed to his heart in the same manner his heart was committed to theirs. This God of the Old Testament was not cold and distant at all; he was very present and very passionate. His one desire was to restore his creation unto himself.

Isaiah 30:18 (NIV) Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

During the season of Advent, we sing the haunting words of desperate longing -- the cry of the children of Israel who were in bondage and captivity because of their relentless rebellion.

"Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel"
By unknown author, c. 1100
Translated by John M. Neale, 1818-1866

1. Oh, come, Oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

2. Oh, come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

3. Oh, come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

4. Oh, come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home:
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

If you are in a place of self-imposed exile from God, God is longing to come to you as Emmanuel (The God that is with us). He has already paid the ransom for your sin and debt. The desperate longing of your heart to be in full relationship with him is only a tiny ember compared to his burning desire to be in intimate, passionate, holy communion with you. He only waits for your heart to turn to him so he can fulfill his plans and desires for your life.

Jeremiah 29: 11-13 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity.


Until next week,

©2008 Katherine Walden

 

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DCQ Archive
November 25 - December 1, 2008



November 25, 2008

That thing that is not coming to you may seem good. But either the timing is wrong, or from His position He can see that the future of it is bleak. I have always believed that people who thank God only for delivering them from what happened are just scraping the surface of praise. The real praise comes when you start thanking Him for what could have happened but didn't because of His swift grace!

T. D. Jakes

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November 26, 2008

The most important prayer in the world is just two words long: "Thank you"

Meister Eckhart
http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/eckhart.htm

Meister Eckhart [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]


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November 27, 2008

Very often when I haven't faith in my faith, I have to have faith in His faith. He makes me believe in myself and my possibilities, when I simply can't. I have to rise to His faith in me. A woman who was inwardly collapsed said to me, "Well, I have no faith of my own, but I do have faith in your faith." "Good," I replied, "take faith in my faith as a first step, and then you will go on to something infinitely better - faith in His faith." With faith in His faith you can do anything- anything that ought to be done. There is a passage which touches your need. "For the Eternal... will not let you go." Faith is not merely your holding on to God; it is God holding on to you. He will not let you go! As Walt Whitman puts it, "Not until the sun refuses to shine, do I refuse you." Then keep saying to your soul, "In quietness and in confidence shall be your faith." (Isaiah 30:15). Then repeat to your soul these words: "To say what ought to be cannot be is a brief and complete statement of atheism." It is. Say to yourself, "What ought to be can be, and I will make it so." And you will. And will go beyond yourself.

Eli E. Stanley Jones
http://www.vaxxine.com/eves/jones.htm
Biography

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November 28, 2008

The Lord is my shepherd," is on Sunday, is on Monday, and is through every day of the week; is in January, is in December, and every month of the year; is at home, and is in China; is in peace, and, is in war; in abundance, and in penury.

James Hudson Taylor
http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/biorptaylor.html
James Hudson Taylor Biography

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November 29, 2008

When the Word dwells as a familiar friend in the heart to direct, counsel and comfort us, then it is a sign it abides there. The devil knows good and hates it, therefore knowledge alone is nothing; but when the promise alters the temper of the heart itself, then it is engrafted there.

Richard Sibbes
http://www.puritansermons.com/toc.htm#SIBBES
Brief Biography and Article


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November 30, 2008

Compassion means to suffer with, to live with those who suffer. When Jesus saw the woman of Nain he realized, This is a widow who has lost her only son, and he was moved by compassion. He felt the pain of that woman in his guts. He felt her pain so deeply in his spirit that out of compassion he called the son to life so he could give that son back to his mother.

Henri J. M. Nouwen
http://www.henrinouwen.org/
Nouwen Centre


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December 1, 2008

The event of Christ is the only event in human history that promises relocation and centering, meaning and purpose. This promise and its fulfillment evoke passionate and heartfelt praise and thanks, especially for those aware of their own brokenness and the healing which Christ brings into their lives.

Robert Webber
http://ancientfutureworship.com/
Worship Resources for the Local Church

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