I remember how sure I was that God had given up on me. Here I was, lying on a hospital bed in the ICU of Regions Hospital. I had two painful back injuries that created a dependence on pain medications. Because I have my own home-based business and more small children than I can count on one finger, there was no option to just be unproductive. I felt like the only way I could keep up with the demands of life was to drink large amounts of coffee, regularly consume energy drinks and even take over the counter stimulant medications.
I used these stimulants as band-aids for the fatigue caused by the medications and wound up in the ICU with a subarachnoid hemorrhage. I didn’t know what that was when I first heard that term but here’s a short description taken from Wikipedia regarding the severity of it.
“It can lead to death or severe disability—even when recognized and treated at an early stage. Up to half of all cases of SAH are fatal and 10–15 percent of casualties die before reaching a hospital, and those who survive often have neurological or cognitive impairment.” – Wikipedia
I know all too well how the lost son felt in Luke chapter 15, spending energy on a lifestyle God did not call him to, wondering how in the heck he got to this place in life in the first place.
I think there have been many times that I can remember that I have made bad decisions that have led me to start thinking a narrative for my life that is different than God’s. I start thinking that I’m not welcome back into the loving arms of our Father, not realizing that He is watching and waiting in anticipation for the precise moment where we finally come to ourselves and come back to Him.
In that parable, it says that the Father broke out in a full sprint to welcome His child back home. The lost son was thinking the same things that we start to think, that we are no longer worthy to be called His son or daughter and if we could at least establish ourselves as His servant, it would be better than living our lives separated from Him.
Though it is true that to be a servant of God would be much greater than being separated from Him, that is not how He works. A loving Father does discipline, but He never stops loving His child and never would abandon His child.
We think that returning to God is going to result in a confrontation of shame and judgment that comes from an angry father who is displeased with his children. But that’s not how God seems to operate.
2 Corinthians 5:19-20 NLT – For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
In Hosea, we find Israel committing sins of adultery and idolatry, both sins are essentially betrayal of devotion, a violation of covenant. It’s not uncommon for me to fall into these same seasons of lack of devotion. To be honest, there are many times where I must admit that I disregard the covenant I made with God in order to indulge in things to satisfy my flesh. I’ll feed on the entertainments and distractions of the world to satisfy my needs rather than drawing sustenance from the nourishing power of the Word of God. But in verse 14 of Hosea chapter 2, God says:
He will win back His bride by drawing her to a place of solitude so He can speak kindly to her.
That is exactly what happened to me. While I was lying in the ICU, a devotional come into my email. It spoke directly to my heart, telling me that despite the fact that I was wallowing in the pig pen and that my decisions had led me down a path of destruction in multiple areas of my life, that nothing was beyond the long reach of the Lord to save, deliver and restore.
Yes I repented, yes I begged God for His forgiveness that flows freely from His heart. But the thing that changed my life was when I chose to find time to spend alone with Him in that place of solitude so He could speak kind words to me, words of hope, purpose and forgiveness. This focused time resulted in a renewed purpose. By setting my gaze on God I received a supernatural healing that corrected my brain hemorrhage and 2 back injuries, but that is a story for another day.
What I discovered was that God didn’t almost give up on me, not even close. The distance created between us was my own doing, not His. As I journeyed towards fellowship with Him, He taught me that it is never too late to become the person I was meant to be.
It’s time for me to be more on purpose about spending time with Him. Is it time for you?