READ: Ezekiel 20:30-44
I have honoured my name by treating you mercifully in spite of your wickedness (v.44).
One rainy autumn day, my son’s vehicle left the road, went airborne at 70 mph (112 kph) and found a lone tree beyond a drainage ditch. For the next hour, rescue workers toiled to pry him from his shredded car. By God’s grace, he survived.
While processing that event with friends, I shared a bit about my own youthful indiscretions. “Do you feel this accident is God judging you for your sins when you were young?” one asked. “No,” I said. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt God’s judgement.”
That got some attention. But if by judgement my friend meant punishment, I stand by my statement.
The ancient prophets show God pleading with His people to return to Him so they wouldn’t suffer judgement. Yet God still permitted them to go their own way. They chose idolatry and sexual sin over His life-giving commands. “I let them pollute themselves with the very gifts I had given them,” God said (Ezekiel 20:26). But He didn’t leave them there. “Go right ahead and worship your idols, but sooner or later you will obey me,” God told them (v.39). Invasion, destruction and exile were coming. Yet they would one day return to Him.
Sometimes accidents are just accidents. Sin, however, always carries a high cost. When we suffer the inevitable consequences, we may think we’re receiving God’s judgement. In reality, it’s His love.
God sometimes permits me to slam into the results of my sin. He pulls me out of the wreckage, brushes me off and sets me back on my feet. I sense Him gently say, “Let’s go this way now.”
Our son for the time being is walking with a cane. I look at that cane and watch those painful steps. I observe his resilient, God-given spirit. And I see a clear metaphor for my own walk with God.
By Tim Gustafson