As Samuel was retiring after making Saul King, he reminded the people of Israel of their history and pattern. He told how God would deliver them, they would honor Him for a while, they would later abandon Him for other gods, they would hen be captured, they would repent, and then the Lord would deliver them. They had followed this pattern for hundreds of years. It was a vicious cycle they were caught in. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t break it.
It’s easy to read the Bible and wonder what was wrong with them. Why couldn’t they see? But when we look at our own lives, we too follow similar patterns. We have certain things that seem to pull us away from God at various times in our lives. Certain temptations get the best of us. We sin, we feel like we’ve disappointed God so we don’t ask for forgiveness for a while because we feel like we are cheapening grace. After some time passes, we ask God to forgive us, and we go right back into serving Him.
No matter what our pattern is, in those times when we feel like we are far away from God, it’s important to know that God is not far from us. We may feel like we’ve abandoned Him, but know that He has not abandoned you. In I Samuel 12:22, as Samuel was reminding them of their pattern, he said, “The Lord will not abandon His people because that would dishonor His great name” (NLT). Even though they had abandoned Him, He had never abandoned them.
It’s our guilt that makes us feel like God has abandoned us when we sin. It’s our guilt that makes us feel like we don’t deserve forgiveness. But no matter how many times you fail, no matter how badly you sin, no matter how long you’ve walked away from God, or how far you’ve gone, God has not left your side. He’s patiently waiting to restore you. He wants to bring you back to the place of blessing and healing. He wants to re-enter that place of fellowship with you. There’s no set amount of time to wait. His great grace is waiting for you to repent and return to the life He has for you. Don’t let guilt force you to abandon God. Let grace restore you.