Have you decided to do something and after you did it asked, “Why did I wait so long?” It’s a common experience. It happens when we’ve delayed something out of convenience or fear. When we finally force ourselves to do that ‘thing’ we find that we shouldn’t have delayed it. Do we ever do that with God?
I have been thinking about two stories from my life that fit this description. The first is when I came to the place in my life where I knew that I needed Jesus. In the church that I grew up in we expressed that by talking to the Pastor at the end of the service. I wouldn’t do it. Instead, I grabbed him by the arm after the service and talked with him. Yes, I began following Jesus in earnest at that time; but the next week I still waited until the very last moment to share my joy with the church. After I had shared I really wondered why I waited.
The second encounter with God in which I experience the “why did I wait so long” feeling is one that has happened several times in my walk with Him. These are those moments when I realize that I have been neglecting my love for Him. Yes, the moment I realize my neglect I repent of my apathy and I seek Him fervently, but (and this is what I regret most) I don’t jump back into spending real time in prayer or worship with Him. I hesitate. I approach Him timidly. Now, I realize it is very human to do this. Perhaps for some of us it is even an attempt to be respectful of God’s feelings (after all, He does say that our sin genuinely hurts Him). Yet, I also know from the Scripture how unnecessary such timidity is.
From the mouth of Jesus, “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
It is tempting to think of God as an angry Father who is offended by our sin, isn’t it? And yes, He is offended by sin. However, the Scripture is clear that a real repentance on our behalf instantly changes His view of us. Suddenly, God is the Father in the prodigal son story. We may have forgot the context of that story. Jesus tells it as a follow up to this statement, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10) That declaration was made in response to the Pharisees who were grumbling about Jesus spending time and eating with tax collectors and other types of sinners.
One final thought. Do you remember the prophet Jonah? Yeah, I am talking about the guy who ran away from God. Do you remember why he ran? He ran because he knew something that disturbed him about God. He knew that, “You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” (Jonah 4:2b) Jonah knew what we need to know: God forgives immediately and powerfully when we come back to Him. It’s Jonah, not God, who wants judgment to happen. What does Jonah know that God wants? God wants restoration.
So, I am left to ask myself, “Why do I wait so long to renew fellowship with God?” God isn’t holding a grudge. He has forgiven me. He longs for restoration. What about you? Are you waiting? Why?
Something to think about,