Let me hear the words of the Lord: are they not words of peace, peace to his people and his loyal servants and to all who turn and trust in him? Deliverance is near to those who worship him, so that glory may dwell in our land. -- Psalm 85:8-9 (New English Bible)
And so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness proclaiming a baptism in token of repentance, for the forgiveness of sins. ...After John had been arrested, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: 'The time has come; the kingdom of God is upon you; repent, and believe the Gospel.' -- Mark 1:4,14-15
And here is one point, my friends, which you must not lose sight of: with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. It is not that the Lord is slow in fulfilling his promise, as some suppose, but that he is very patient with you, because it is not his will for any to be lost, but for all to come to repentance. -- 2 Peter 3:8-9
Repentance means to turn our hearts to God. And if there is one consistent message throughout the Bible, it is that God wants our hearts turned to him.
Story after story illustrates God's desire that we listen to him above all others: above the voices of this world, above ourselves, even above religious leaders. The story of Adam and Eve's temptation in the Garden of Eden is the story of listening to the world's desire for knowledge and power above God's desire for simple obedience. The story of Cain's temptation to murder his brother, and the story of Joseph lording it over his brothers, show what happens when we put ourselves first. The stories of the disciples and friends who kept wanting Jesus to be different again illustrate how difficult it can be to ignore the world and follow God completely. The stories of the temple priests, scribes and Pharisees who led the people astray during Jesus' lifetime show the dangers of putting all our faith in religious leaders. And these are just a few of the stories throughout the Bible which describe someone putting someone else, or something else, above God.
Throughout the Bible, as well, are God's responses to the waywardness of his children. God tried punishment on a grand scale. He tried teaching his children about laws and ordinances and statutes. God tried selecting spokesmen, choosing the most unknown, and unlikely, people to be his voice so that none could boast in their own skills, but that he alone would be seen and glorified. God was even willing to put his most Beloved in harm's way, to sacrifice him for the love of all.
Why does God want our hearts turned to him so badly?
I believe it's because he made us in his likeness. We are part and parcel of each other. Unless we are truly connected to each other, neither one can be truly content. So God waits. He waits for us to turn to him, to seek him out, to ask for his help, to recognize his blessings. And as soon as we do, he is there, revealing his great care for us, and sharing his peace.
We don't have to be perfect. God knows us through and through. He knows our temptations. He knows our tendency to make idols of the most mundane things. And yet he never gives up on us. All God desires is that we turn our hearts to him, let him re-connect with the deepest part of our being, and let his love conquer all. Then we will truly understand the glory of God.
Dear God, your patient and steadfast love is amazing. Keep us in your embrace as we strive to grow closer to you. And keep the example of Jesus, your Beloved Son, ever before us. Love always, Pam