A dear senior widow was our first volunteer to care for all the church’s class materials. She saw to the filing and organizing, she ordered supplies, she found things for you and did errands. But, “Woe unto thee” if you did not put things back where they belonged! More than a year after she passed an elder found a note stuck up under a podium in the foyer that was used for visitor greeting supplies. It simply asked, “Do you remember me?” with her name. Of course we did and missed her greatly. I thought of her again when I re-read the following and wonder, “Do you remember?”
Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD. (Jer 31:20).
God penned these words by the hands of Jeremiah a hundred years after He brought the Assyrians upon Israel (Ephraim) in a final judgment—a captivity wherein they were scattered and lost their identity as a people. We can read Hosea 11 to see God’s attitude toward the sinner He must punish. But, 100 years after judgment day, God still remembered and wished and promised mercy.
When someone leaves the Lord, whether it is the child of a member sowing wild oats or one who must be withdrawn from, or one who just drifts away into immorality, how do we feel a year later? Do we still petition God for mercy and to bring such a one to repentance? Or, have we forgotten all about him/her? Do we feel they brought it upon themselves and it is sort of sad, but that is just the way it is, or do we imitate our heavenly father with yearning to have these lost ones back and just how ready are we to offer mercy?
The prodigal father is not the only picture of God seeking the sinners and mourning their recalcitrance and offering mercy to the indifferent.
Repent. God is waiting for you.
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezek 33:11
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2Pet 3:9