Links Daily Devotional

(Re)turning to God

And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel: “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only.” (1 Samuel 7:3, NIV)

Is your game in hibernation? For many golfers, it certainly can be this time of year.

But here’s one thing we know to be true. When the sun returns for good and the courses start showing green again, it’s not hard to pull those clubs from the closet and get back at it. You’ll go to the range and loosen up for as long as it takes. You’ll let calluses reform and maybe visit the chiropractor—all for the sake of the game.

Our walk with Christ is, of course, no such game. It’s the real thing (sorry, Coca-Cola). And because this walk is what matters, we should be willing to make hard choices for the sake of it.

The first of those choices is perseverance. That is, “No Hibernating.” When work gets busy, or we want to hang with our old buddies, or there’s a particularly important game on TV, or the kids have events that need attending—you understand all this—it is easy to say that the activities of faith will need to stand aside for a while to let all this pass. Our walk with Christ becomes an occasional glance at him from over here where we have so much going on.

The trouble is that so much of the “so much” doesn’t count for much at all. It’s a chasing after the toils and spoils of earthly existence. It comes without perspective, without an eternal view. It is no better than a graven image, carved by our own hands, as if we can do a better work than God himself.

Now here’s what’s different between the return to golf and the return to God. When we return to golf after an unwanted winter, we find it easy to give up the long office hours and the lustful reading of golf magazines for the joy of the course. But if we have made the bad choice to hibernate in our faith, the return is more demanding, for those lesser practices have allowed the adversarial lion to sink his claws into our souls; they do not want to let us go.

So we must make some very hard choices. We must “rid [ourselves] of the foreign gods and commit [ourselves] to the Lord and serve him only.” Paul wrote of it like this: “Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Colossians 3:5). This is serious business. But we must ask ourselves straight up: What we do for a game, will we do this for life? will we do this for Christ?

The answer may lie in one of the most notable adages in all of sports: “No pain, no gain.” We may need to confront our own selves with the question of whether we are willing to do the hard thing to return to our walk with Jesus.

Jeff Hopper
January 27, 2015
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