My family moved into a new home this summer, on a woodsy lot in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Now autumn, I sit at my dining room desk to write, and the view through my window is one that is stunning but also rapidly changing.
As I gaze outward, I’m keenly aware of the beauty that has been, and the death that’s just on the heels of it.
Several months ago, wrangling with an area of sin in my life, I came across the following scripture:
What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. … I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:4,6)
I knew when I read this that God had a message in it for me.
“I don’t want the burnt offering of a life of ministry. I want your heart. I want your love.”
I’ve even come back to the scripture many times since then. But it didn’t have the kind of impact to move me, the kind of impact you would hope.
And I’ve come to see what happens as a result:
Our life WITH God can get swallowed up by a life of ministry FOR God.
In distant memory, I see the beauty of a vibrant dependence on Jesus. But I also see how dry and crackly I’ve become, dying on the vine of my own self-effort.
I’ve worked with all my might to serve missionaries, our church in Tryon, and the family under my roof. But I’ve relied largely on my own power to do it.
Back to the scene at my window.
Part of the beauty of the last days of autumn is that even as you see the brown, shriveled leaves and bare branches, you can be sure new life is forming in the hidden places.
I feel this happening with me as my good Father, who knows me in my innermost being, reaches in and woos me back to dependence on Him.
As is usual, He’s doing this through the hard in my life — death and rebirth are never easy —but I’m thankful for the one whose love is steadfast, for the one who pursues me when all I have to give is burnt offerings.
The LORD is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion.
Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. (Psalm 116: 5,7)