Friday, December 16, 2011


There have been many times in my life (i.e. the last 4 years) that I have looked back in retrospect at certain periods of time (or 'seasons' as we Christians called them) and have envied myself for the amounts of spiritual growth I have done. How silly is that? To envy oneself? But why on earth would I feel this way if I were in fact, in that retrospective moment, I were growing in Christ myself? The answer I believe lies in the fact that we tend to stray.

The Lord is our Shepherd, and in Him, 'we shall not want' (lit. "be lacking") but so often we get distracted. We become consumed with life's obligations and we stray further from our Shepherd. This doesn't happen overnight, it happens in moments throughout days that turn into months, that turn into those 'seasons'. We find that we have not yearned for the Lord as we should have, nor relied on Him as we ought and need to. Our condition is a stray sheep in need of return.

Back in Florida, a college pastor of ours preached through the entirety of the Bible - one book at a time each Sunday morning until he was finished - Malachi was one of my favorites. I remember he labeled Malachi as a book about spiritual apathy. A particular verse that has somehow always struck me is Malachi 3:7 which says, "From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have no kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we return?'" The book of Malachi specifically discusses the Israelites neglect of the Law and how the foreign influences were becoming a dominating part of their culture - from intermarrying to divorce. The condition of the nation was just not good, even the priests were neglecting their duties in favor of foreign practices - which is one reason why the prophet addressed the priests harshly in chapter 1. This verse is telling us that God is different than the his ow laxidasical chosen people - and He is different from us. We continually stray, but God has mercy on us for if we return to Him, He will indeed return to us. Malachi 3:6 says, "For, I the LORD, do not change..." And surely He does not.

The prophet Isaiah addresses the nation of Israel in a similar manner, and this verse I just love: “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like a mist; return to me for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22) Not only are the people told that their sins are forgiven, but God gives them a reason in their return to Him - "for I have redeemed you". I was talking with a friend the other day, another seminary wife, who mentioned that she sometimes feels that before she can go to the Lord she has to clean herself up on the outside - I empathized with that feeling. The amazing thing is that we don't have to try to make ourselves look good because our status has already been changed: if you are in Christ, God has redeemed you and therefore you can return to Him even if you have strayed, because trust me, you will stray again.

Lastly, in one of my favorite epistles, 1 Peter, the apostle gives us a great hope, “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  (1 Peter 2:25) Christ is the Chief Shepherd, the One who watches out for all of His sheep, and the Overseer of our souls.

Returning to God can and should be just that joyous.

1 comment:

  1. I've got to say, this is exactly what I needed to hear today. Your heart for God is so incredible Kathryn and I love you dearly. Thank you for posting this! Whenever I find that I've strayed away, I'm convinced that I'm not good enough to be brought back or that there are things I must do to "get back in good" with God. That's not right though, because as you, Isaiah, and God said, my sins have been blotted out like a cloud. I've been redeemed.

    My favorite verse is Isaiah 43:1, "But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.'" Being redeemed has kind of been the theme of my life, so I got it tattooed on my foot as a reminder, but I find that, even with that reminder, I forget all the time that I've already been redeemed and it's not something that needs to continually be done. It's already been done. I'm forgiven, set free. And loved.

    Thanks again Kathryn! I love you and miss you! God's doing great things through you =)