“‘Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him; I hid My face and was angry, and he went on turning away, in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners, creating the praise of the lips. Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,’ says the LORD, ‘and I will heal him.’” (Isaiah 57:17-19)Most of us have seen a movie or read a book where the moral of the story is that we should “follow our heart.” If our hearts were pure and completely sanctified, this would not be bad advice, but unfortunately, none of us has reached the place of complete sanctification. God is still in the process of renewing our minds and our hearts, a process that will last until we shed this flesh and ascend into the presence of God in heaven. Jeremiah reminds us that, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Sometimes the deceit is so deep that we are not always aware of the reasons and motivations behind our behaviors. This is why we need the Word of the Lord to judge our hearts, because “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Do you know anyone who, due to their following after their own heart and desires, have begun a process of turning away from the Lord? Sometimes we become unsatisfied with the way that God has chosen for us, so we turn from that way and begin to pursue our own way. In our own mind we may justify ourselves saying that we still love the Lord, but our walk and our pursuits are not after Him but after other things. For a time, God may be willing to let us wander after our own way, like the father of the prodigal son, but in the end, He will move with compassion and mercy to draw us back to Himself. We may wander from God’s ways, but we can never wander from His love.
This scripture gives encouragement not only for our own lives but also for the lives of those we love. Most of us know at least one person who is dear to us who is at a place in the life where they are pursuing things other than the Lord. To watch someone wander can be very painful, especially for parents. Many children go though phases in their life when they test the boundaries of their parent’s faith. It is a time when they are deciding if their parent’s faith will become their own faith. As a parent, this can be very painful to watch, yet God gives all parents great hope. In speaking of the wandering one, God gives these promises.
I am watching: God says, “I have seen his ways.” Even when our children are out of our sight, God is still watching over them. Our children may fool us, but they cannot fool God. God sees what they are doing, He knows and understands their hearts, and He is orchestrating a plan to draw them back.
I will heal him: There comes a time when you have said all you can say. Our words can become the foundation upon which God may build in their lives, but our words can never replace power of a personal touch from God. It can be hard watching God work in our children’s lives, knowing there is little else we can contribute, but when God works, His work will stand forever. God is committed to the healing and restoration of those we have entrusted to Him. God promises, “I” will heal!
I will lead him: God has a way of leading us back to Himself. He has a way of turning the desires of our hearts to be more in agreement with His heart. God will use other people and even difficult circumstances to lead us back to Him. Jesus said this of the Holy Spirit, “He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13) God has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us, and not only us, but all those whom He has chosen.
I will comfort him: In the Psalms, David said to, “Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.” (Psalms 149:1) The “new song” that David is talking about is our praise to God for all He has brought us through. When God brings us through difficult situations, or when He corrects us and restores us, our heart’s natural response to God is praise. Praise for His loving kindness towards us. Praise for His ever lasting love and care for our lives. We find that we are able to praise God in a new way because of the new things God has done for us.
I will comfort his mourners: King David said, “He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalms 126:6) Parenting is not always easy, in fact, sometimes it hurts. We sow seeds into our children, sometimes with weeping, and hope for a bountiful harvest. We sow our seed and trust the Lord for the harvest. Our hope is that, in the end, we will have joy with the Lord in the work He has done in the lives of our children. John said, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (3 John 4) When God restores the wayward ones, what great joy will be ours.
I have written this primarily in regard to a parent and a wandering child, but the promises of God are not limited to this relationship. Anyone who is longing for someone dear to them to return to the Lord can take great hope in His promises. What God has said He will do, He will do!