1 Samuel 12:20-22 (the message)
Samuel said to them, “Don’t be fearful. It’s true that you have done something very wrong. All the same, don’t turn your back on God. Worship and serve him heart and soul! Don’t chase after ghost-gods. There’s nothing to them. They can’t help you. They’re nothing but ghost-gods! God, simply because of who he is, is not going to walk off and leave his people. God took delight in making you into his very own people.
The people of Israel had a record of crying out to God when they were in a jam but then deserting Him for other “gods” when all was well. The scripture above is referring to them demanding a king. They had been delivered from slavery in Egypt and through various battles/challenges through the men God has chosen over the years. God was choosing and God was leading. However, a time came when the people of Israel approached Samuel (the prophet) with the demand for a king. He warned them of what life under a king would be like, “But the people wouldn’t listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We will have a king to rule us! Then we’ll be just like all the other nations. Our king will rule us and lead us and fight our battles.” (1 Sam. 8:19-20) God let them have their way and once they realized they had traded God as king for a man to rule them they were afraid.
How many times have I traded God’s loving rule in my life to follow after another “king?” How many times have I demanded my own way because in my eyes it would be easier or would lead to a life similar to those around me? Was I just giving up or giving in because I no longer wanted to trust God to fight the battle? I have been there! I have thrown in the proverbial towel on God…reached a place in life where I just didn’t want to do it His way anymore. I chose a new king; I demanded my own way. And you know what? Just like in 1st Samuel, God let me have my way. He knew the pleasure of doing things my way would be short-lived and that eventually the rule of this new “king” would devastate me, but He let me have my way. He doesn’t force us to follow Him. He doesn’t force His reign on us. We choose.
What I love about the scripture above is this: “It’s true that you have done something very wrong. All the same, don’t turn your back on God…God, simply because of who he is, is not going to walk off and leave his people.” How amazing!! How true! If you doubt this applies to you or your circumstances I challenge you to give God a chance! I know what it’s like to reach that point of realizing what you have given up…when the ugly consequence of demanding your own way is staring you down. I know about the overwhelming shame. I know the need to punish yourself…to turn your face away as God is trying to tip your chin up and look into your eyes. You think you can’t bear to face Him. Your sense of loss and regret, of your ruin, seems so much stronger than the flicker of hope that comes and goes. Not to mention the many spoken (as well as unspoken) opinions of others. We are more likely to believe the condemning and finishing remarks of people who hardly know us than to risk believing the God who made us still loves us. He doesn’t want us to turn away or run, even when we are 100% guilty. He will not abandon us, will not turn away, simply because of who He is! It’s not about how “good” we can be or how “bad” the sin is…it’s about how amazing and forgiving God is! As intimidating as it may seem, falling apart in repentance before God is the most healing choice we can make for our lives. Running from God damns us to the waters of self-reliance and chaos. God is willing to bring true peace to our lives as we submit to His rule of love.
Be brave. Believe God.