Turn to Me
“Turn to Me”, God says over and over and over again to the Israelites.
“Turn to Me”, God says to them on their way to the Promised Land. And again, He says “Turn to Me” even more, after they’ve come inside.
They would inherit a great land, because perfect provision is a fact of The Eternal Reality. They would live amidst sweetness and beauty and peace, because these are the essences of God’s goodness. They would be handed impossible victories that they only need show up for, because God’s triumphant mightiness inhabits the actions of the people for His purpose. And when they entered the Promised Land, they would be given areas to cultivate and their work would yield blessings because these are privileges within the Kingdom of God.
All the while, God’s inevitable hope for Himself manifests perfectly—His nature is being revealed to all. Through the Israelites, we see that God is powerful, the all-knowing Leader, He is good and desirous of good for others, He is aware, and relational, present, and so on. And even more, God exemplifies to the world through His chosen people that He is patient, long-suffering, forgiving, constantly tending, and is the rescuer of the lost.
I used to believe that the purpose of the Israelite’s quest was simply to get to the Promised Land. However, now I don’t think the goal of their wanderings and inhabiting of the Promised Land centered on a specific place, slaying giants, or enjoying milk and honey.
Speaking from experience, when I make my purpose about destinations and acquisitions (even holy ones), I become narrow minded, cocky or easily frustrated, and I lose discernment—“which battles am I to fight again?” While the reality of God’s Kingdom certainly offers incentive for us to want to get there, God can’t be merely about getting people to a place, because then what? We’re still the same restless people who have been romancing a concept, only now we’re captives in a vaguely familiar territory. A fabulous territory, yes, but will we know how to stop looking for paradise once we get there if the only thing we’ve been practicing so far is the pursuit of “someday”?
If eternal life is simply “knowing God” as Jesus says in John 17:3 (which is both a state of being and a state of doing), then heaven must be, above all other things, the state of being eternally focused on Him. The point of all this toiling and wandering right now, and God’s purpose for the Israelites and for us, is to slowly settle into an eternal posture of our choosing, based on our personal knowledge of The Eternal God.
Life is here that we may learn to be turned to Him, and experience a flood of reasons of why this is a good thing for us. As we are plowing and tilling the daily tasks which He has brought before us, God is cultivating us into being people who are turned to Him in all things.
We are expressly not to turn to our fears, or our worldly perceptions. We are not to reject God (the simplest definition of “sin”) when the old ways fictitiously re-emerge as more appealing or more certain than the present circumstance or the reality of God. With God’s empowering, we can get comfortable in our eternal position of facing God now, and pray that this would become home to us.
Turn to Him—not created things or falsities—because He is the source of patience, forgiveness, presence, and goodness.
Turn to Him. Doesn’t it sound refreshingly simple? Doesn’t it make our burdens and digressions feel suddenly redeemable? Hasn’t every other way begun to prove itself to be fallible? Isn’t it inspiring to think that we can have this One Great Thing amidst all the other illusive luxuries that are always just out of reach?
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that you sin not.”
I like that a lot.