Imagine a child standing in front of you – not the obnoxious one, screaming for his mom while pelting you with rocks from the play ground – but a sweet, lovable, squishy-cheeked toddler. You gotta love him. That smile draws you into ornery fun and carefree exploration- no expectations or goals. Just living.
Every person begins their life similarly:
Completely loved by God and squishy-cheeked.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”
A little Bible background: The nation of Israel was God’s chubby-faced toddler. He loved them dearly. They were his fav; the pumpkin-spice of his Starbucks’ world; the icing to His birthday cake; the Jen Hatmaker to His women’s ministry- they were His and He was theirs. They were His chosen people, receiving His favor and love above all other nations. They were always given the last warm cookie on the plate, and in my house, THAT is love.
Then Israel started throwing fits…
They became “that” toddler.
Israel threw tantrums and screamed. Their previous love affair with God was betrayed by their tiny, strong-willed declarations of “MINE!” and their biting of others when they didn’t get their way. Their relationship with God was crippled because of their disobedience. They had cheated Him and needed to be put in a long (but effective) time-out!
It didn’t even make sense! They had everything going for them- a warm place to sleep, clothes to wear, breakfast in the morning with a generous helping of bacon (but not too much)- the Israelites were provided for in every manner. Yet, it wasn’t enough in their minds. They thought they were smarter than God. They believed their short time on earth made them experts on living. No God needed- they got this.
Have you found yourself acting like Israel?
Are you rebelling and throwing fits? Have you forgotten all the ways He has blessed you? Are you busy complaining about not having enough, yet not being thankful for what you have?
We all do this. We look like fools, thrashing in our own strong-will and pride. (Good thing we serve a patient God.) Yet, when we rebel, we are still loved. When we act spoiled, He waits for us to stop crying, looks at us kindly and asks, “Are you done yet?” He still sees us as the children He created, and He loves us despite our faults.
Can you feel it?
Can you feel His love, even when you turn your back on Him and go at it on your own? Do you know that His love doesn’t leave you? It doesn’t. Never. Once you declare Him God, He doesn’t leave. There is nothing you can do to remove His love. No matter how far you run, no matter how many hurtful things you say, it doesn’t change the way He feels about you.
God’s love for you is ultimate. It is carefully crafted. Your heart is gently cradled in His hands. You can trust Him. His love is gentle. Overshadowing your faults, God’s compassion for your human nature is bigger in its execution than in its existence. Countless second chances. Endless acts of love.
“I LOVED him…I CALLED him…”
He is calling you out of your rebellion.
Come back, oh Israel.
He calls us; beckons us. He romances our souls.
He is waiting.
Your time-out is done.