Going into 2020, I had made a complete mess of my life. I was neglecting myself and my spiritual health, which gradually trickled and then flooded over into neglecting my marriage and my son. Prior to the covid-19 shelter-in-place, my pastor had decreed a word for the year: TRANSFORMATION. He referenced multiple scriptures but this one stood out most to me: “Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord (Zechariah 1:3). For me, there was great conviction with those words. You see, I was a person who was proclaiming to be a Christian, but living another life. I was checking the Sunday box and being the “good mom” by taking my son to church every week, but there was no real evidence of living the life of a follower of Jesus. I was drinking, medicating depression and anxiety, and on the literal verge of a nervous breakdown.
I would pray prayers at night before bed. Sometimes I would read my Bible. If things were really bad. I would often cry on the way to work– why wasn’t God doing anything? Why wasn’t he coming through for me? Couldn’t he see that I was miserable? I was blinded by my lack of participation in going to God, and genuinely pouring out my heart to him, laying down my way, my plans, my mess. I continued to carry them, all while playing the victim of God’s lack of movement in my life.
A friend of mine gave me a journal for my 40th birthday and encouraged me to begin to write the things that God was speaking to me and showing me. I wrote a prayer in it, and the words that my pastor spoke, “Return to me, and I will return to you.” Then I put the journal away in a basket with some other books and went back to chaos.
Fast forward to shelter-in-place in March of 2020. Mandatory work from home. Mandatory homeschooling. Mandatory time away from the things that kept me distracted from dealing with me. I remembered the journal and the word, and I started to write. Everything. All of my feelings, beliefs, prayers, hopes, and complaints. Everything. I asked God to heal me. I asked God to forgive me. I asked him to help me break my habits of alcohol and medication. It’s a long story, but He started a work in me. A transformation. It all started with a return.
I heard a pastor once say, “If you can’t hear God anymore, it’s not because He moved.” And while I do believe that there are seasons that he lowers his volume so we’ll press in closer and go up higher to where he is, in my story, I’m more like the prodigal son. We are all prodigals at some point. When we accept Jesus, we get to enjoy the benefits of an heir, including a fully restored relationship with him. But we take our benefits for granted, or we expect God to do something amazing for us and when it happens, we forget God. That’s what I did. Thank God for second chances, and thirds, and fourths, etc.
“While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).
“Return to me, and I will return to you.”
It only takes changing your mind to change your direction. Then, if you’ll truly surrender the reins, He’ll change everything in your life. Today I’m on the other side. I don’t abuse alcohol. I don’t take medication to numb my anxiety. Is my life perfect? Absolutely not. Am I doing life alone? Never again. In the 30 years that I have professed Jesus as my personal Savior, He is more real to me now than he has ever been. He’s still in the business of second chances, restoration, and miracles. My life is proof.
Do you need to make a return? Have you been living life with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom? God’s word says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm- neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:15-17).
On the outside, you might be the complete package, but it doesn’t negate the fact that you could be hanging on by a thread on the inside. Just go to Him. I promise you, He’ll run to meet you too. Lay your pieces down at the feet of the Prince of Peace. He’ll transform your reality too.