I am Israel.
The history of Israel (read Judges) is a roller-coaster ride of the people fervently dedicating their lives to God, then turning their back on Him and worshiping idols. As a result of their sin, things got bad…when they were finally at a point of desperation, they would cry out to God to rescue them. He would.
This cycle of good, bad, repent happened over and over and over again. There are days when I fully dedicate my life to God, intently listen for Him and actually obey His commands. Just like God chose His people, I’m one of His chosen who he predestined to be loved and known by Him. Then there are days and times when I mess up…and yes, there are consequences. So I recognize my sin, I Repent. Rinse. Repeat. I am Israel.
So when I come to those times in my life where I find myself in sin, I’ve learned I need to “lament, grieve, and cry. Dissolve my laughter into sobbing and exchange my joy for depression. Lay myself facedown on the ground in humility before the Lord and He will will lift my head so I can stand tall.” (James 4:9) When the people of Ninevah turned from their evil ways, the kind covered himself in sackcloth and ashes, and declared a fast for everyone including the animals. Now that’s repentance. God doesn’t want me to be depressed or mourning all the time, but he does want me to recognize how nasty sin is and to be disgusted at myself when I make mistakes.
Apart from James this semester, I’ve been studying Jeremiah which is an account of the prophet Jeremiah boldly telling Israel (over and over again) to “Repent! If you don’t, God is going to destroy you.” They didn’t. As a result, God literally brought enemies from all sides to come and destroy Israel, take captives and the consequences were dire. I wonder how much different life had been if they had just repented and listened to Jeremiah? Throughout my life, I want to always be able to recognize when I’ve turned from God, repent, and turn back to Him. I’m a sinner, I make mistakes…we all do. I want to get past my mistakes and learn from them, and return to the loving arms of Christ who has already forgiven me.
I am Israel…but God loves me anyway.