Turning Back

Weekly Sabbath Survey
Turning Back — 7-26-2014

How often did the people of God provoke Him in the wilderness and grieve Him in the desert? Yes, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 78:40-41

According to our Scripture here, turning back in our journey with the Lord is absolutely possible to do. We start out at salvation very excited and ready to serve the Lord. But soon enough, the going gets tough. After we passed through the blood of Jesus, like the Israelites and Moses through the Red Sea, there was a time of celebration, but it wasn’t long before we came to the desert. It is part of our training to endure the difficulties, hardships and temptations, and keep going. This happens from time to time with on-going training. These are the times we find ourselves wanting to just give up. It happens.

If a person never felt anything in common with the prodigal son, then it may be easy to discount that whole experience. But for so many people I know, myself included, it is part of our life’s journey. While once is enough for some, others do it over and over.

A spiritual turning back is to want to go back like the Israelites who missed the leeks and garlic they had in Egypt. They even griped about the manna that was keeping them alive and healthy — no sick among them. We join ourselves to the cause of Christ and then when the going gets tough, we want to quit. There is no resigning or retiring from the Army of God. So we run away — go AWOL. Jesus pursues us into the wilderness, calls to us, whistles like the shepherd to his lost sheep. Although it is possible to reject His efforts to bring us back, I believe most of us cannot resist forever that gentle voice calling our name. Some take a long time, but most eventually answer, and go back to Him. God never gives up on us, even if we give up on Him. He is always faithful, even when we are faithless.

The awful truth of our Scripture verse is the last part. We may grieve Him, as in hurt His feelings, or we may tempt Him, as in incur His punishment, but how horrible for us, that we might LIMIT Him! He desires to equip and sustain us to the max. But our hard-headedness (called in Scripture ‘stiff necked’), causes us to resist the training we all must have from time to time. We not only bring Him sorrow but we incur His chastisement like disobedient children. And even may lose some of the privileges and blessings He was planning or had already given to us. This is where we limit Him. He wants to do so much for us, but our wayward behavior prevents it. Some of us may complain that others have more blessing than we do, but we persist in the willfulness that limits God.

That stiff necked part means (to me) we are refusing to BOW our head, our knees and our heart before Him. We are insolent in our behavior or thinking. We may not recognize this until that 20-20 hindsight kicks in AFTER we have exhausted ourselves on a path through a horrible place we were never meant to go.

His anger is for a moment but His love is forever. He responds with love in the misery of our chosen circumstances, as we answer His call to us. We must admit in humility and repentance that we have grieved and limited Him, asking His forgiveness. Only then, can we be restored to the place of blessing and fellowship with Him. It may take awhile, that restoration process. Our spiritual tantrum may cause us great sorrow, and result in a painful and lengthy recovery from the consequences. But if we remain faithfully with Him, in due time, we will be made whole again.

Charlene Reams Manning

Believer in the Lord Jesus Messiah

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