Experience silence in the midst of your busy day. Take some time to relax into a time to be with God.
Jeremiah 31:7-14 (NRSV)
For thus says the LORD:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
“Save, O LORD, your people,
the remnant of Israel.”
See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
those with child and those in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations[a] I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.”
For the LORD has ransomed Jacob,
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall become like a watered garden,
and they shall never languish again.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will give the priests their fill of fatness,
and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty,
says the LORD.
This text from Jeremiah reminds me of a line from an Aaron Shust song I encountered sometime in my youth: “And may we leave here changed, because we’ve met with you, God.” That line pops into my mind every now and then, and in fact, it has often been a part of my prayers about various youth events I’ve attended and helped lead over the years. Honestly, it has become something I hope for, to be changed by God, time and time again. Now, I’m assuming you have faith because you’ve experienced an encounter with the Living God that has changed you in some way. So, what is it about those encounters with God that change us? I think the answer has everything to do with how God changes us.
I don’t think God changes us with fear, intimidation, and coercion, and I don’t think God changes us with reward for good behavior or intentions. I think God changes us with love. When we, burdened by guilt, approach this loving God in repentance, God is quick to forgive. And that changes us. When we, full of despair, approach this loving God in desperation, we find the promise of hope. And that changes us. When we, overwhelmed with tears and grief, approach this loving God in sorrow, God wipes our tears, holds us, and comforts us until our joy returns. And that changes us. Our encounters with God often leave us different than the way we were before them, and that is because of God’s love. I read this text today as a promise of that love, which is steadfast and abounding. May you know God’s love in a fresh way this day, and may it change you.
O God, we give you thanks for who you are, a God who is generous in love and mercy. Continue to meet with us, to move in us, and to change us. Guide us and stretch us in your way of love, we pray. Amen.
Go with God!