The picture on the right is the floor of our daughter's closet. This is not the way it usually looks. While things are often scattered on it there is not usually this much stuff. And shortly before I took this picture it was much worse. When I asked her why she replied, "It's what my mom said to do."
I had to ask a few questions before I understood what was going on in the closet. The closet was a mess, particularly the shelves. As a part of the instructions to straighten things out my wife told our daughter to "clean off the shelves," which the little one understood to mean "put everything on the floor and start from there."
While the way our daughter understood and applied her mom's directions may not have been the best way to reorganize her closet, she did understand and obey the instructions when they were given to her. This is not always the case. Sometimes things need to be said a number of times, in a number of different ways, for a number of reasons, some more valid than others.
I have been reading Jeremiah lately, one chapter at a time. I read Jeremiah 35 on the day of this incident with our daughter. Jeremiah spends a lot of time carrying the same basic message to the people of God. He repeatedly calls them to repentance, with the warning that they will suffer greatly if they don't.
In Jeremiah 35 he tells of a group of people called the Rechabites who have been faithful to the instructions of their father, even in the face of adversity. Jeremiah uses them as an example as he then tells the people of Judah this message from God in verses 14-15:
"The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father's command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me. I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me."
The people of Judah have been disobedient to God over and over and over. But God has been gracious and held out His mercy to them time after time after time. God called the people to turn from their sin and to turn towards Him. It is a call He is still making today.
My daughter had a number of methods available to her when it was time to clean her closet. But it all began with listening and then obeying the basic command.
And so it is with us. We each have many things we need to abandon when we follow God. Each of us who follow will do so in a way that is faithful to God but different from others around us.
But it all begins with hearing His voice, turning towards Him, and turning away from those things that lead us in other directions. Through Jeremiah and the other prophets God called His people repeatedly. And He is still calling people to Himself today.
Is He calling you? What will you do when you hear His voice?
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.