Archive | March, 2013

Two-week Break

16 Mar

I’ve been out of town for classes, so I’ll have something good next week!  Blessing as you worship our great God tomorrow.

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The Ultimate Do-Over

3 Mar

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
.   I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

I will build you up again,
.   and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.

Again you will take up your tambourines
.   and go out to dance with the joyful.    —Jeremiah 31:3-4

Sitting with a tangled green mess in my lap, I crumbled into a heap. “I can’t do it!” I raged.

The “hat” flew across the room, knitting needles clanking as they landed then rolled under my grandma’s dining room table.

Looking at the floor, I heard her come into the room, but I ignored her. I would know those black oxfords in a crowd of feet. “Who wears those ugly things anymore,” I thought, my anger spilling all over the linoleum toward her pointy-toed shoes.

She retrieved my tangle of knit-when-I-should-have-purled from the chair where it had landed and kicked the needles out from under the table.  She bent down as they rolled toward her.

I steeled myself for a scolding. She simply walked out of the room and back into the kitchen. I heard a creak from the chrome chair legs as she sat.

Still pouting, I turned on the TV and lost myself in Wheel of Fortune. Words and letters were better friends than yarn. I was good at this.

————

Israel had turned away from God. Not like turning around and ignoring Him– more like running headlong in the opposite direction toward anything else that made them feel good. Instead of praising their Creator, they worshiped other gods– gods they made with their own hands. Gods that could not hear or do anything.

When God made the first Covenant with Israel, he said he would be their God if they would serve him only.

The crazy thing is that when they broke the Covenant, God didn’t stop being their God. He went after them, wooing them back. And when they couldn’t be wooed, the curses he had promised came: sword, famine, and plague.

He brought horrendous devastation and exile on his chosen people. And they responded as he had hoped – with repentance. The curses were punishment for disobedience and natural consequences for their sin, but they were also the discipline of a loving Father. Everlasting love and unfailing kindness go to any lengths, including discipline.

While the Israelites were still in exile (a severe punishment because a major promise of the Covenant was the Land), Jeremiah received gracious promises from God. In Jeremiah 29-31 God proclaimed that restoration would come to the remnant– to those who repented and turned back to him.

In Jeremiah 31:4, in the middle of incredible promises, a glorious treasure lives: You will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.

As Israel slid into idolatry, God called her an adulteress and a prostitute. She threw away her honor for shame and disgrace. Her virginity was forever lost when she turned from her Beloved and ran into the arms of self-indulgence, hedonism, and debauchery.

Yet God restores the Remnant of Israel. More than just taking her back, he completely restores her virginity– and he puts no quotes around the word. In 31:4 Virgin is a capitalized title, drawing attention to Israel’s redeemed status. His Remnant Bride is completely restored.  He gave her the ultimate do-over.

She responds by making music and dancing– the Virgin Bride sings the praises of her Beloved.

————

A couple of game shows later, my grandma came into the room, the ball of yarn, neatly wound in one hand and the beginnings of a hat in the other. The snarls were completely gone; she had taken me back to the point before I got off. Without a word, she put the needles in my hands, cupped her hands around mine, and worked the yarn up and around until the hat was done.

She told my mom that I had knitted it. I made the mess. She put it back right.

————

Ready for Sunday

God has completely restored me– all the mess is gone, cleaned up, and put right. Do I fully understand that?

Do I understand that his everlasting love and unfailing kindness went to the ultimate length– the sacrifice of his Son so that I could have the ultimate do-over.

Much of the time I don’t grasp this.  But when I do, my heart sings and soars! I am his Bride; he is my Beloved.

Let the singing and dancing begin!

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