Backsliding and Hope

downward turn

The first few chapters of the Book of Jeremiah in the Bible fill me with a profound sadness. I had to stop and re-examine my life and search for the ways in which I had fallen short and I did not have to search too deep.

‘Return backsliding Israel’ says the Lord; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you for I am merciful,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God…’ (Jeremiah 3:12&13. NKJV)

I checked the meaning of the word ‘backslide’ and here is what I got:

  1. To lapse morally or in the practice of religion
  2. To revert to a worse condition

(courtesy the Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Another word for Backsliding is Retrogression.

It is so easy to slip a little; to stop doing those things we used to do before. I tried to remember when last I took the time to study the word of God – really study; or when last I retreated into the quiet places inside me to just commune with the Most High and I felt ashamed. There were several other things I found I was doing or not doing that made me bow my head in shame. I even stopped teaching the junior choir because I did not have the requisite reserve of spirituality to sustain me and you need divine wisdom to work with teens and pre-teens. How did I get here?

“Return, you backsliding children (child), and I will heal your backslidings.” (Jeremiah 3:22aparenthesis mine)

I know where I want to be and not just that, I also know where I ought to be. Many times, I read the Bible and it did not make sense, but this morning was something else. I have had this prompting in my spirit to study the book of Jeremiah. I’m not really familiar with that Book. Sure I’ve read through it but it did not stay with me the way the book of Isaiah did (probably because I studied it at a cynical time in my life). The urge to read Jeremiah just wouldn’t go away though I did my best to ignore it. Finally this morning, I sat with my Bible and decided to read. I have not gone far, but it is enough. Enough to let me know that God cares deeply (I could almost say desperately) about me. He was (IS) not content to watch me just cruising along. He is determined to do a new thing in my life but first, He needs me to let Him get rid of some stuff.

“Indeed we (I) do come to You, for You are the Lord our (my) God.” (Vs 22b)

The backslid state begins with the mind. When you find yourself relishing those things you used to despise, keeping that company you once avoided and just being generally unconcerned about situations which once distressed you, then know that you are well and truly on your way. It starts with just one slip; one chapter of the Bible today instead of two. Praying less… one step, then a slow descent, which speeds up to a smooth slide and before you know it, you are deep in filth and sin and wondering how you got there. One thing I’ve noticed though, is that God NEVER allows you to have a smooth ride to that place; there are always checks and warnings. Friends who we later learn to avoid. The Holy Spirit will not just let you go like that, He will sound His warning in that slight discomfort you feel when you are about to do something which may not be wrong in itself but is a sure step away from God. He will nudge you in that twinge of guilt you feel when you discover the thin film of dust on the jacket of your Bible. And even in the midst of the darkest sin, His grace is still there.

That is something else I’ve discovered. The devil is there to catch the fallen believer, to offer his own brand of comfort and convince you that you can’t ever go back; that since you knew better and still allowed yourself to get to that state, there was no point trying anymore. He’ll coax and cajole until you become comfortable where you are. But that’s just it, as long as there is still an atom of life in you, it cannot be too late. God is a loving father and He does not turn truly repentant children away. His arms are open wide to receive us…He’ll help us stand; dust, clean, and perfume us with His grace and restore us!

The most essential thing a child of God needs to know is to stay connected to the power source. You see, we can’t stand by ourselves; we just don’t have what it takes. Can a radio work without power of some sort? Without that connection to God who is the source of our power, we will just lay there, full of potential but unable to function. When that connection is cut, even for a short while, compromise will set in. That’s when we begin to tell ourselves it’s not exactly sin? That place is dangerous. The Holy Spirit of God is what keeps a Christian standing!

There are three things I have had emphasized to me:

1. Stay Connected

2. Pay attention to the checks of the Holy Spirit

3. It is never too late to go back to God (as long as you are on this side of life)

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