Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Great Longing

We’ve all heard the stories that include the phrase, “If it wasn’t for the prayers of a praying mom,” “my parents prayed over 20 years for me,” “my grandmother was a praying woman—she never gave up on me,” etc. Usually those phrases are accompanied by a testimony with a happy ending. The common theme—don’t give up on a loved one who has lost their way.

Maybe you have a loved one who is not just lost, it’s as if they’ve gone into exile. An exile is “anyone separated from his or her country or home voluntarily or by force of circumstances.” Over the years I’ve watched people very close to me pray, grieve, cry, fast, quote scripture, and even pay thousands of dollars in the hopes of seeing their beloved come back to God.

King David banished his own son Absalom from Jerusalem to live as an exile in Geshur. The punishment was actually mild when you consider the crime Absalom committed. Out of revenge, Absalom had killed his half-brother Amnon for raping his sister, Tamar. David must have felt like a huge failure to have two unimaginable events happen in his own family.

Three years passed, and scriptures record how David ached to see his son.
“And King David longed to go to Absalom.”1
“. . . the king’s heart longed for Absalom.”2

God longs for your exile to return, and He understands how you long for that day too.

A wise woman came to David and cleverly told him it was time to bring his son home. She ends her plea with these words:

"Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, He devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him."3

In other words, she tells David, “There’s no going back, what’s done is done. But God is always finding ways to bring the guilty ones back to him—He wants them back even more than you do.” She revealed God’s heart for the exiled ones, giving David permission to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem.

Here’s the good news—God is doing everything in his power to bring your loved one back from exile.

If you don’t believe me, I’m going to use a technique I used during my teaching-jr.-highers-who-don’t-always-listen-well days. I’m going to say the same thing 4 different ways, in this case using four different translations of 2 Samuel 14:14. Sometimes we need to hear something more than once, so that it gets deep down in our spirits.

He devises devices. . .

God “devises devices that the wanderer may not be forever expelled from him.” YLT

Picture an inventor trying over and over to make his invention produce the intended results. God is figuring out the perfect method to reach your exile, inventing new ways of reconnecting. He uses existing details about your loved one to formulate His tactics.

Another fact worth noting—the state your beloved is in right now is not permanent! You must believe it is only temporary; remember, their current state can change in the time it takes to breathe a prayer.

He plans ways. . .

“He plans ways that those who have been sent away will not have to stay away from him!” NCV

Do you know any planners? My daughter is always planning ahead for her birthday party, sometimes starting 5 months ahead of time! It drives our family crazy, but her birthdays always turn out wonderful and memorable—no detail is forgotten. God is already planning His and your reunion with the wayward one, working out the ways and means to make it happen. And like the prodigal son, your exile will be the guest of honor at the homecoming party!

He tries . . .we must keep trying too

"That is why God tries to bring us back when we have been separated from him. He does not sweep away the lives of those he cares about -- and neither should you!" NLT

God is committed to trying everything imaginable to reconnect your exile, are you? Chances are your exile feels so worthless and so separated from God. During this time, you must continue to love them, pray for them, and find your own clever ways to show them you still care.

He works out ways. . .

"But God does not take away life. He works out ways to get the exile back." The Message

I have several people in my life whose words I trust completely. On occasion, I’ll ask them for help with something and they say, “Don’t worry, I’ll work it out.” I don’t ask how or press for details; I just know it will happen.

That’s what God is saying to you. “I’ll work it out, I’ve got this.” Right now He is at work, whether you know the details, the time frame, the cost, the people involved, etc. He will work it out—your exile is coming home.

12 Sam 13:38.
22 Sam 14:1
32 Sam 14:14