The Return to God – Introduction
“From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, How shall we return?” Malachi 3:17 – ESV
It is my experience that, if you really want to mess your life up, and you think you are serving God, just tell God, “Hey Big Guy! I got this. It’s all right if you want to take care of things, I know you must be really busy.” IF you happen to have any friends who actually fear God, they just might scoot over a few feet before the lightning hits you.
“Such arrogance!”, “Such hubris!”, “There is no way I would ever say that to God.” I know, I can hear you thinking it.
Don’t kid yourself, we all do this at one point or another, in small ways or big. This might be exactly why a lot of people who Love God, through Jesus Christ will not go to a church, because they see the same arrogance and hubris in that church, while that church is not able or willing to see how far it is off course.
If you are wise, and are listening to the Holy Spirit, you will repent immediately. But if you aren’t, like I wasn’t, then you might be in for a long ride down a darkening path.
I did this in really big ways. I was in Seminary. For the first time in my life, I was making nearly all ‘A’s. I was learning biblical languages. I was involved heavily in getting a few churches started. etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. – whatever.
Don’t get me wrong, I started out on fire. I was moving in the spirit. I was reading the Bible and praying. One evening, about, maybe 20 years ago, whilst sitting in services at a small church in Fort Worth, Texas, the Ministry for Divorced people was presenting services. This is when God let me know he was unhappy with me.
See, I had judged these people and said in my heart, “These people are probably divorced for a reason!”, “I don’t feel sorry for them!”, “If they had been doing the will of God, they wouldn’t be in this spot.” Crazy, right? I KNOW none of you guys would ever think a thing like this, but I did. But what I didn’t take in to account when I did that was, GOD WAS LISTENING TO THE MATTERS OF MY HEART.
God disciplines those whom he loves.
You see, by the time I had arrived at this level of arrogance, I had separated myself from God by insisting that I take the wheel, run things on my own. I hadn’t noticed that my personal life had changed, and not for the better. NOT ONLY THAT: when God told me to check my attitude and repent, I had the stones to tell God, “Really? From what? I am serving YOU, God. And, I might add, I am doing a great job.”
See what I did there?
I was ignoring the fact that my personal walk with God had slipped away from being an intimate experience, and things were drying up. I had gone from daily prayer, to no prayer. I had gotten “too busy” to read the word. I had let sins that God was protecting me from creep back in and eventually dominate my private life. I had become just like the people in Malachi, whom God had called to repentance.
He called and I said, “WHAT?!?!”
God told me in my heart that, unless I repented, he will remove me from the “status” I enjoyed. My service FOR God had taken place of the service OF God.
I refused to repent.
He called me again to repent.
I thought He should recognize what all I was doing FOR HIM. (Yes, I am a Jack Ass!!).
See, I didn’t think I needed to repent of anything. My arrogance had driven me to the point where I had become god, and I had removed the guidance of God from my life.
God warned me. He called me to repent over and over.
Yet I refused.
Then things went to hell.
My marriage ended, I was “encouraged” to leave Seminary. I lost my job at a private Christian children’s home. The churches I was involved in, and built, were taken from me, and given to someone of a more humble nature. My prayer partners refused to have anything to do with me…
…yet I refused to repent.
Then, when things got really tough, and I was living out of my car, I decided I hated God. I blamed Him. And I spent the last 20 years hating God and running from being what he designed me to be.
Recently, I began to hear the voice of the Lord calling in my heart. It was quiet, gentle, and so sweet it made my heart ache with such longing. I learned many things from the last 20 years, and that is what my next 12 or so posts will be about. This is just the introduction.
I am writing this to show you what God showed me. I am not going to bore you with the 20 years of running. I am going to start with Malachi 3:7 – the part that says, “Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of Hosts.” That is why I am calling this series, “The Return to God”.
If you are still breathing, there is hope for you, whether you are a church, or an individual.
For me to be useful in the Kingdom, I had to repent, confess my sins of arrogance, ignorance, self importance, and especially from telling God that I AM serving Him when all I was doing was drifting away from Him.
I had to understand that I had become an embarrassment to the Kingdom.
But God used those 20 years to teach me what repentance is all about. From repentance comes His presence in your life. That is what the next posts will be about. I hope you get something out of this. If you don’t, that’s OK too. I am writing this to those individuals and churches who think they are serving God, but have let the arrogance of their own ways separate them from God.
Tired of playing church? Want to know why a lot of Christians do not want to go to your church? I want to share the lessons I have learned from this painful experience. There were many tears in my journey, but it has brought me to a blessed joy that only comes from the presence of God. Part one of this series will probably be the longer of these posts.
I pray, in Jesus holy name that all that I write is the truth, represents God in the furtherance of His Kingdom, and becomes a blessing to all that read it. I pray that Jesus continue to be my Savior and Lord, as the Holy Spirit walks beside me, and teaches me how to be God’s beloved Child. – Amen.