This morning I started reading Deuteronomy 31. I had highlighted verses 6 & 8 because I love how God promises several times to never leave us or forsake us and also tells us repeatedly to be strong and courageous.
God will always be with us, he will never leave or forsake us, but we need to make a conscious decision to be strong and courageous and to obey him.
When God has a point to make, he repeats himself so we will catch on. Within these two verses God tells us to be strong and courageous twice, not to be afraid or terrified twice and that he will never leave or forsake us twice. He means it.
And then I looked back to Deuteronomy 30. It describes how, if you turn to the lord and obey him, he will bring prosperity to your life. In these verses (1-10) there are several repetitions too. Three times God tells us to obey him and three times he repeats “with all your heart and with all your soul”.
Deuteronomy 29 talks about renewing a covenant with God, not so much reestablishing a new one, but adding to one that was already established with the Lord. As I read through a few things caught my eye, God is reestablishing a covenant he has already made with the Israelites, reiterating commands he has already given and adding to them. He tells them to stick to the covenant and they will be blessed and prosper in everything they do. He reminds them that they are standing in front of God, entering into a covenant and sealing it with an oath.
So in Deuteronomy 29 God reestablishes a covenant with his people, in 30 he tells them what they will have in return when they obey or disobey the covenant and in 31 he repeats that he will never leave or forsake them and tells them to be strong and courageous.
When I was running away from God and from my husband I knew what God wanted me to do. I knew not only what he wanted me to do, but why. He told me so clearly, as I lay in bed one night, to read the bible and I would return to my husband.
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach…No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
I believe that everyone that is running from God knows exactly what they need to do to return to him. I believe that God is chasing them so passionately and that at one point they could almost clearly hear his voice telling them what to do. Depending on how long they have been running from him, they may not hear his voice as clearly now because they have been pushing it to the side for so long, but I know that if they would take a moment to be still and to rest their minds, they will remember what God has been telling them to do.
In these three chapters God was serious about punishing these people physically if they did not obey his commands and stick to the covenant they were making with him. They would have actually died, they would have actually been destroyed by their enemies.
God doesn’t do that to us now, he doesn’t just make us keel over and die if we don’t obey him. But disobedience of his word and personal instructions to us makes us die a different type of death.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.
Your vibrancy dies, your passion for life, your dignity. In your disobedience to God you will become dismal. Maybe not on the outside, maybe you will be like me and seem positive and excited for life to everyone around you regardless of your situation. But on the inside you will feel lonely, pointless, lifeless and lost.
Ephesians 4:17-19 describes someone who has gone away from God as being “separated from the life of God”, “having lost all sensitivity” “with a continual lust for more”. And this is exactly how I was. I was desensitized to the harsh, crass and lost world around me. Nothing could fill me, nothing was good enough, I needed more and more of everything, continually searching for something that would make me feel whole.
None of my new friends saw this in me, they saw a fun and hardworking girl that chased after life and loved where she was. But my old friends and my family saw that I was searching for something. They felt that I wasn’t where I needed to be.
It was when I obeyed and made a choice to love God with all of my heart and soul that the change happened. In obedience God changes you. It wasn’t so much a choice to love God with all that I am, it was a natural progression because of obedience.
God gives us what we need to live a full life IF we obey him. If we take that step, and usually it’s a simple one, to obey what he has been telling us, he will help us with the rest. When we obey him, whether we feel like it or not, God will wash through us and transform us into someone that passionately loves him with all of our heart and soul.
When we do what we are told he does what he has promised.
Deuteronomy 29: This is what I’ve told you do to.
Deuteronomy 30: This is what I will give you and this is what will happen if you don’t listen.
Deuteronomy 31: But I will never leave you. Be strong and courageous.
There wasn’t a time in the two years I was running from God that I didn’t know what God wanted me to do. Sure, I ignored him or did half of what he wanted me to do and thought that would be good enough. But if I had sat still and rested my mind for a moment, I would have remembered exactly what God’s instructions were to me.
And when that day came, when I was broken down enough and lonely enough and realized that all my pursuits left me empty, and I obeyed what God had told me to do…that was when my eyes were opened. I took that step of obedience and my eyes were, almost literally, opened.
I actually felt alive instantly. I literally felt as though I had been seeing in black and white for the past two years and suddenly color was there, vibrancy, JOY. Suddenly I could see and feel. Suddenly I was alive!
God doesn’t just tell you to be obedient so he can control you, he tells you to be obedient because he wants you to live a full and joyful life! He doesn’t just tell you do obey him and not give you something in return. He sees your steps towards him and is dying to reward you for them. He is so excited to give you what he has promised if you obey him!
He’s told you to do something. He will give you something in return. If you run from him, there will be consequences. But he will never leave or forsake you. Be strong and courageous.