By Russ Ramsey
“Remember, wherever you go, you go too.”
I heard an old friend give this advice many times. The simple idea here is that we think we can run away from our problems, but it is often the case that we are, in some measure, their source. Even if we pack up and move across the country because where we live seems unbearably difficult, the one thing we take with us, no matter where we land, is ourselves.
In these chapters of Jeremiah, God’s people are called to “hear the word of the LORD” that they might repent, because His judgment is underway (Jeremiah 44:24). Some of the people of Israel, in an effort to escape God’s disciplining hand, moved to Egypt. He may ask, “Why are you doing such terrible harm to yourselves?” (v.7), but in truth, God not only knows where they are and what they are doing, He also knows what lurks within their hearts: their idolatry, their refusal to obey the Lord, and their desire to worship foreign, false gods they had to search out to find. But the Lord called them, as He calls all of us, to own the ways they’ve sought to distance themselves from Him.
Repent of it.
What ways do you seek to hide yourself from God? What are the ways you seek to position yourself so you’re nowhere near the consequences of your unkindness, or dishonesty, or misplaced worship? Some in Israel fled to Egypt, but the rebellious, idolatrous hearts beating away in their chests went with them. And until they dealt with the truth of who they were and who God had called them to be, they would never be free of the treachery that got them into all this trouble in the first place.
Here’s the beauty of God’s call to the rebellious idolater: it comes with an invitation to repent and the promise that He is a God who keeps His promises and does not discard His people.
Being honest, I try to distance myself from my own dark desires and behaviors by moving things around so others won’t suspect I struggle in the ways I do. Do you do this? How? Sometimes it’s as simple as spinning the truth a little so that things reflect well on you. Other times, it’s as elaborate as selling your house and moving away. But we all do this in some measure, don’t we?
One thing Scripture makes abundantly clear is this: We cannot outrun our sinful hearts on our own. We need to be delivered. In Jeremiah, as Israel and Judah lie in ruin, and as the people wonder what hope remains, the presence and word of the Lord remains, calling them back and promising redemption. And this is precisely what Christ has done for us. So just as you always take yourself with you wherever you go, when your faith is in Christ, you take Him too.
No matter where you go, you are fully seen and fully known by God. But more importantly, you are also fully loved.
Written by Russ Ramsey