By Robert Halsey Pine
“From there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. In your distress, when all these things have happened to you in time to come, you will return to the LORD your God and heed him. Because the LORD your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.” (Deuteronomy 4:25-31 NRSV).
After telling His people how they would be scattered and warning them not to worship false gods, Moses explains to them how they will eventually find God and return to Him. Their disobedience will finally bring about their repentance and they will return to God under the covenant that he made with their ancestors.
It is almost too easy. We are in a “no-lose” situation. We are called to obey God, and if we don’t, he encourages us to repent and return to Him with no hard feelings on His part. This God of ours is either super-loving and generous or crazy. We certainly aren’t that generous with our brothers and sisters that do us wrong. We take grudges and hard feelings to our graves. We hold things against people who we haven’t seen since grade school.
The Lord our God will neither abandon us nor destroy us. Man’s record on these two accounts is shameful. Hundreds of peo-ple are being abandoned or destroyed by their fellow men and women during the time it is taking you to read this meditation. What is it that makes us want to cast our fate to the natural world? There is only one true loving and forgiving being, and that is God Almighty. Yet we, like the ancient Hebrews, get scattered among the peoples and worship other gods made by human hands.
We are fortunate in that God is not holding a stopwatch on us. Whenever we get around to returning to Him and repenting, he is open and accepting. He doesn’t hold things against us that we did as a youth and He doesn’t hold things against us that we did yesterday. Knowing this, why do we resist being near our loving and forgiving Father? In a sense our own disobedience is our punishment for straying from Him. Through the death of His Son Jesus Christ, He has made it so easy for us to begin to experience His eternal kingdom. We can drink from the well of the new life in Christ or sip on the stagnant waters of the worldly swamp.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.