I don't know about you guys, but I began this year feeling weak, discouraged, and saddened. 2016 did not go the way I thought it would. My plan was to work as much as I possibly could all year, saving as much as I could for grad school. Although the last few months of the year ended with me doing that, many frustrating job searches, transitions, and uncertainty had occupied most of the year, and I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. Additionally, I felt spiritually dry and distant from God, through no one's fault but my own. I was bitter and frustrated, as though God had owed me something and failed to deliver, when in fact I was the one who hadn't been faithful.
But I didn't - and I don't - want to stay that way. I want to have the desire I once had to be near to the Lord; to be utterly consumed by the need to know Him and make Him known.
Maybe you're familiar with the story of Hosea. He was an Old Testament prophet who served God during a time when Israel was unfaithful to the Lord. God famously asked of Hosea something that seemed ludicrous: go and marry a prostitute. Then, after they'd had children and she was unfaithful to Hosea, God asked again: forgive her. Take her back. Their entire relationship was a picture of what the people of Israel repeatedly did to the Lord. Again and again, Israel turned away from God, and again and again, God invited his people to return. In the middle of the book comes this beautiful plea:
We are Hosea's wife. We constantly turn to other things and people to satisfy us. As Augustine said, our hearts are idol factories. But when we are faithless, God is faithful. He promises that when we turn to Him, He will come. Just as we can be sure that the sun will rise, we can bank on the fact that God will draw near to us when we draw near to Him.
He will come. He will revive. He will restore.
Does the power to change come from our own strength or willpower? Are we the ones who bring life and who renew ourselves? What is the work that God asks of us?
The work is to believe. In John 6:29, Jesus tells the crowds following Him, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." God's invitation to us remains the same. Come to Me. Believe in Me. Place your trust and hope in Me and press on to know Me.
If we believe that God is who He says he is and that He does what He says He will do, we will give everything to know him. We will draw near. And when we do, He promises that He will come.