Today I was reading in Zechariah chapter 1, and the book opens with God telling Zechariah “Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
No big deal. This is what God always says. He’s always ready to take us back. We talk about it every Sunday in church.
But this IS a big deal. God has been punishing the people for decades of sins. They have completely, totally, and utterly abandoned God. They’ve turned their back on Him over and over and over again. So, He punished them, because He loves them.
Now, here, Zechariah is told to go tell the people these things. Not because they have repented, or felt sorry, or made up with God. They are still far from Him. No, Zechariah is told this message because God wants to see them forgiven and restored. It’s because of Him, His love, His kindness, His grace, His hope, His forgiveness that the message is given. “Return to me, and I’ll return to you.”
We get it. Then we don’t get it. We think God is forgiving. God does love us. God does offer forgiveness.
We doubt it really applies to our big messes though. There’s a limit to His grace. We have to fix things first before He’ll look at us. We think we can mess up, and God will take us back. We just believe there is some magical formula in the middle of those two things where we earn it. Most of the time when we really screw up, we realize that if that’s true, we’re in trouble. We aren’t sure how to get from point A (I screwed up) to point B (God forgives me).
But here, hundreds of years before Jesus shows up on the scene, God simply offers, turn around and come towards me. I’ll meet you as soon as you turn around. That’s it. Nothing more. He offers it to an entire nation of people who are still far from Him. Just turn around and look for me. I’ll be there. (You can almost hear the Jackson’s behind Him? “I’ll be theeerrrreee….. I’ll be theeerrrreee….Just call my name….I’ll be there…..”) Only, He really meant it.
He still does.
Yep, you’ve messed up. So have I. Today. But the offer holds true. “Return to me, and I’ll return to you.” Just turn around. Look for Him. Ask Him to come. He will. He promises. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I don’t fathom HOW He can or will do it. I really don’t. Doesn’t matter. He still does it. He is here for us, we just need to turn around.
Return to me, and I’ll return to you.