August 18, 2020
When You've Wandered Away From God
"Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end." John 13:1b, c (NIV)
When our firstborn child Ethan was about four, we decided to lose him in the department store.
Yes, you read that correctly, but let me offer more explanation as to why we intentionally did that.
While he was young, we wanted to help Ethan learn to follow us closely in public places so he wouldn't get lost. Like most children, Ethan would often run away from us when he saw a beloved toy character on the store shelf. The power of those toys to capture his attention was irresistible!
One shopping trip, when Ethan stopped to examine bed sheets that had his favorite cartoon character on them, we decided to hide around the corner from him. When he looked up from the sheets, we were nowhere in sight ... at least not from his perspective.
We had disappeared! His eyes welled up with tears as he stood there, stuck in his spot, not knowing what to do.
About 30 seconds later, my husband James swooped in and picked him up. "Ethan, we have been watching you the whole time. We were just around the corner. We never left you. But this is a big store, and you need to keep your eyes on us so you won't get lost."
And from that day forward, he didn't. He learned his lesson well. I didn't even have to hold his small hand to keep him near when we went shopping.
Like my son, we have a heavenly Father who guides us through this huge department store called life. There are many distractions along the way - shiny objects that vie for our affection and attention. It's easy to take our eyes off Jesus, to wander, to get lost. We ask questions like "Where are You, God?" and "How could You abandon me?" Maybe you feel far away from God right now or like you've hit a spiritual ceiling you can't grow past.
Yet even right now, God is near. We cannot shake ourselves from His presence. The psalmist David writes in Psalm 139:9-10, "If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast" (NIV).
Our key verse assures us of the unshakable nature of God: "Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (John 13:1 b, c). He loved them to the end. Even the cruelest death on a cross could not stop Jesus from loving His disciples and loving us.
There is nowhere you can go and nothing you can do to shake the love of God.
Human hearts are prone to wander, but God's heart is always toward you. You are never alone or abandoned. As we pivot away from worthless things and turn our eyes toward Jesus, we discover He's been waiting for us all along!
Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me so much that You went all the way to the cross. Forgive me when I walk away from You, when I turn away from Your laws. Search my heart, and know my thoughts. I choose to follow You today and keep my eyes focused on You - and my future home in heaven. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Thessalonians 2:15-17, "So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." (NIV)
Before you get out of bed, when the day hasn’t started, it’s easy to trust that God is in control. But when the day unfolds, and you face tough decisions or moments of despair, it’s so easy to forget He’s with you in this. So, friend, we created our "Take Courage" mug for the moments when you need to remember that He’s got this ... and He’s got you. Click here to purchase yours today!
Need some coaching to become a more proactive parent? Check out Arlene Pellicane's book, Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What's Right.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are a few practical ways you can follow Jesus today?
Lately, where has your attention been focused? Are you looking up to God for answers, or looking around at your circumstances? Take time to cry out to God, "Please bring me back to my first love for You." And share your thoughts about today's devotion in the comments!
© 2020 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.