Word for Wednesday… Recalculating
When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?Jeremiah 8:4, NLT
One morning this week, after dropping one of my kids off at school, I decided to take the long way home, which meant that instead of taking the interstate, I would drive through the country. I do this often, but since I had a lot on my mind, I wanted to go even further into the country than usual. So I guess this was technically the long, long way home. My GPS app thought I was going my usual route through the country, so it proceeded to start giving me directions. For a short while I didn’t deviate from them, but then I went straight where it told me to go right, throwing my phone into a tizzy. For at least the next ten minutes it kept telling me to turn around. It must have recalculated fifteen times before finally giving up and finding a new way home that aligned with the direction in which I was traveling.
The prophet Jeremiah could certainly relate to the way my phone must have been feeling when I missed that first right turn and repeatedly refused to turn around so I could continue following its directions. Only he wasn’t concerned about unnecessary wear and tear on an engine and a few extra dollars in gas money, but the consequences the people of Judah would have to face for heading further and further toward sin and away from their Creator. It didn’t make sense to Jeremiah that would they “stay on their self-destructive path” and “refuse to turn back” (Jeremiah 8:5, NLT), given the threat of a Babylonian invasion. Anyone who has witnessed a loved one travel down the path of addiction, or continue to make one poor choice after another, has wondered the very same thing. It’s painful to watch someone (or an entire nation of someone’s in Jeremiah’s case) unravel before your very eyes and seemingly have no desire to make the necessary changes to avert certain disaster.
Understanding why Judah, or anyone for that matter, would choose a negative outcome is a complicated matter. Some people do make a free choice to sin simply because it feels good, or seems more desirable than the alternative. But like an addiction, sin can also take hold of a person, imprisoning them, rendering them powerless to stop their downward spiral and move toward healing. Recognizing this, Jeremiah foretold of the day when God would write his laws upon his people’s hearts, making it possible, or at least easier, for them to choose differently (Jeremiah 31:33). As followers of Jesus we recognize that through Christ, God has set us free from the power of sin and death, enabling us, by his grace, to keep our lives headed in the right direction (Romans 8:2). Take a few moments today and ask God to reveal to you those areas in your lives in which you are heading away from him. When he tells you to turn around, listen.