“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1, ESV).
God invites you to come back to Him. No matter how far away you’ve wandered or how long you’ve been gone, Hosea 6:1 opens the door: “Come, let us return to the LORD.” That’s the invitation to revival.
“Come.” This is a tender-hearted pleading. You don’t have to stay where you are. You don’t have to live the life you’re living. You don’t have to experience the sorrow and heartache you’re feeling. You can return to the Lord. It’s not too late. Return! God is waiting now with open arms. Return to Him!
Doubt can become faith. Discouragement can become joy. Despair can become purpose and fulfillment. Defeat can become victory. How can that happen in your life? When you return.
The Hebrew term translated return is used more than one thousand times in the Old Testament—more frequently than almost any other term describing what God desires for us. Hosea uses the term twenty-three times. In fact, the entire book of Hosea assures us that good things await those who return to the Lord.
Returning is a picture of repentance and a decision made at a point in time. Imagine a smoke alarm suddenly going off. You have an instant choice to make: remain where you are or move away from the danger. You may be slow to respond or simply ignore the alarm, hoping it will reset. Perhaps that’s the danger.
In the same way spiritually, when you hear the alarm, how do you respond? Have you grown deaf to God’s call? When God has spoken, have you simply ignored Him? Do you hear His voice today, beckoning, “Come, return”? Turning to God means . . .
1. Recognizing. The first part of turning is recognizing that behaviors rigorously rationalized are the real issues in your heart. What has to go? As you let God shine His light on your activities and inner thoughts, you’ll realize, “This is wrong or harmful to me and to those I love. I recognize this for what it is: sin. That used to be attractive, but it repulses me now.” Sin is a barrier to returning, and we have to open our eyes and see clearly.
2. Repenting. When you see what got you where you are, you don’t want it anymore. You’re ready to be honest with yourself and with God. “I’m wrong, God. I’m sorry for what I’ve done. I have no excuse for my choices. I’m unworthy, I’m undeserving, but I’m returning.” There is no downpour of mercy without returning, and there is no returning without repentance.
3. Returning. If you want to experience the downpour, then you have to come back. This is not just an emotional response or flippant change of mind; it’s also an exertion of your will to get moving again in the right direction. It’s a choice: “I’m leaving this sin behind. I don’t want this anymore. I’m not hanging around that temptation—I’m shutting it off and moving away. I’m returning to the Lord. I want what God has for me—first, most, and best.”
Think of returning to the Lord as discovering a destructive weed in the garden of your heart. First, you recognize it: “Hey, that’s a weed! Get it out of my garden.” Second, you pull it up by the roots—that’s repenting, demonstrating that you are really done with that weed. Third, you dispose of the weed so it can’t sink its roots into your garden again. That’s putting serious distance between the sin and your life.
Today do you hear the call: “Come, let us return to the LORD”? Don’t delay. Don’t try to fix yourself or sort things out before you return. You don’t have to be clean in order to get right with God. He makes you clean! He doesn’t need you to fix yourself (as if you even could). He wants your heart and His to be as close as possible as soon as possible.
This post originally appeared on Dr. James MacDonald’s daily devotional Our Journey and was republished with permission.