Never Too Far

Scripture Focus: Jeremiah 18.12
12 But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’”

Reflection: Never Too Far
By Erin Newton

The fate of Israel is like watching a train wreck. 

God calls out to the people through Jeremiah trying to warn them of the coming disaster. It is like the warning signs you see when driving the wrong direction down the road. You bypass the signs telling you not to turn, past the signs that tell you not to enter, and eventually, you’re facing oncoming traffic. But you’ve committed to getting on the highway, so you keep barreling down the road to impending doom.

Is there any time when someone is too deep in sin to repent? Has there been a time in your life where sin had escalated so much so that you gave up trying to change your ways? 

As we saw earlier this week, stubbornness is the hardening of the heart. It is the resolute defiance against change despite consequences or rebukes. There can be a false narrative that we tell ourselves that there is a limit to the grace of God. “I’m too far gone”, we think. Out of shame of possibly sinning “too much” or “too severely,” we assume we cannot return to God. 

On the other hand, perhaps some wish to be out of reach of God. There is no shame for one’s sin in this scenario, only the lust to continue. 

In either case, the truth is that all our sins are seen by God. The psalmist ponders this question, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalm 139.7-8) There is nothing that is hidden, nothing out of reach.

As Betsy Ten Boom once said, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” The limitlessness of God’s love nullifies the sentiment, “It’s no use.” We cannot let our shame limit the forgiving nature of our God. We must not coddle our sins and limit our free will to change. 

Because our mortal bodies are bound to continue in the realm of time and space, we know that we must continue on each day. For those who have given up on God and themselves, the choice is inevitable disaster. For those who choose to listen to God’s call to return, it is a promise of abundant life.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Small Verse
Let me seek the Lord while he may still be found. I will call upon his name while he is near. 

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings

Jeremiah 18(Listen -3:40)
1 Thessalonians 3(Listen – 1:44)

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Read more about Worth Doing Poorly
No matter how far short we fall, anyone can turn in repentance and take steps with Jesus that make a difference.

Readers’ Choice is Coming!
What posts from the past 12 months helped you? Even if all you have to say is, “It blessed me,” share it with us and we’ll share it with others.

Hope for Marred Pots

Scripture Focus: Jeremiah 18.6
6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.

Reflection: Hope for Marred Pots
By John Tillman

Watching something you love self-destruct is wearying in a unique way. This is true whether what is self-destructing is a person, a nation, or a political group. It is for this reason that reading through the prophets can be an exercise in endurance. 

If we begin to grow tired of accounts of the sins of Israel and Judah and the judgments coming their way,  we are not alone. The other prophets and priests of Judah grew so sick of Jeremiah’s messages that they conspired against him.

Their opposition would grow from verbal attacks and ignoring Jeremiah to more insidious and violent forms. Their opposition would culminate in a plot to take his life.

They are not alone. Jeremiah grew weary of his own message. Jeremiah’s writings are filled with moments of grief and longing for his people to listen, to change, to repent. 

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet but he is not the only one weeping. Many of Jeremiah’s most mournful passages could be read with God as the one weeping rather than Jeremiah. The most likely interpretation is that it is often both, not one or the other. Jeremiah is a weeping prophet because he serves a weeping God.

God, understanding Jeremiah’s grief, sends him to a place he can see that there is hope for marred and broken things—the potter’s house.. 

God tells Jeremiah that it is Israel on the potter’s wheel. Marred, rebellious, stubborn, yet still the artisan keeps the clay in his hands, crushing, spinning, shaping, and reforming the pot.

There is hope for marred and broken things like us. Whether nations, peoples, groups, or individuals, we can be reshaped. We don’t have to remain a useless, malformed pot. If we will stay pliable and stay in the hands of our potter, we can be reshaped. We can become a fitting vessel for the good plans that God has for us.

May we stay humble.
May we stay pliable.
May we stay in the potter’s hands.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Happy are the people whose strength is in you; whose hearts are set on the pilgrim’s way. — Psalm 84.4

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 18 (Listen – 3:40) 
Mark 4 (Listen – 5:01)

Read more about The Two Ariels
“Judicial hardening” refers to the way God acts in response to our rejection of him and his messages.

#ReadersChoice is time for you to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year.
What post reminded you of Christ’s love?