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Our Wandering and God’s Pursuing

“Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:9-12)

Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that our battle against sin ends. If anything, becoming a Christian means that our battle against sin becomes more serious. Having been given newness of life by the Father, granted saving faith through Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it is clear that sin’s dominion over our lives has been broken. But this is not the same for sin’s presence in our lives.

Being still in the world and being still of the flesh, sin will continue to try to penetrate its way into our lives. But what God has promised us is that, because of the perfect person and redemptive work of Christ, we now have been pardoned of our sins and now have the power to fight against sin. Yet should we fall into sin, even serious sin, it will never be an absolute and final fall from grace. God, in His perfect faithfulness to His work and in His perfect love for you, will continue to pursue you regardless of how far and how long you have strayed and wandered - that is how committed God is to the preservation of those whom He has predestined, regenerated, and redeemed.

One of the clearest pictures of God’s preserving work is the story of David.

In 1 Samuel 16, after God rejected Saul as king, He instructed Samuel to go to Jesse the Bethlehemite and anoint for Him a king among Jesse’s sons. When Samuel arrives at Bethlehem and meets Jesse’s son, Eliab, he immediately thought that Eliab was surely whom the Lord had anointed. Yet God told Samuel not to look on the outward appearance, for God looks at the heart. One by one, seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel, yet every single one of them were not chosen by God to be the king of Israel. This then prompted Samuel to ask Jesse if all of his sons were present. There was one more son, the youngest, who was at that time, just a shepherd boy. This young shepherd boy was David, and as soon as he was brought in, the Lord commanded Samuel to rise and anoint him, for this was the man He had chosen to be king. And when Samuel anointed David, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him from that day forward. And from that time on, David became great and greater because the Lord of hosts was with him (2 Samuel 5:10). He was known as an excellent warrior, noble king, and a righteous leader. Throughout his descriptions in the Old Testament, we read of how he always inquired of the Lord’s will, sought to obey God’s instructions, and brought honor to God’s name. And yet, despite being a man after God’s own heart, David fell into grievous sins. He not only committed adultery with Bathsheba, but in fear that Bathsheba’s pregnancy would be revealed, he also devised evil schemes on Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, in the hopes that he could cover up the wickedness he had done. And when all these schemes had failed, his only resort was to plot the murder of Uriah. In God’s providence, He sends the prophet Nathan to confront David of his sins. And by God’s grace, David is led to see his horrible sinfulness and is led to humble repentance. We read of David’s prayer for forgiveness and restoration in Psalm 51, a psalm that speaks of every sinner’s total depravity and every sinner’s absolute need for God to renew our hearts.

It is crystal clear in David’s story that it was God who called and brought David back to Himself. It was God who made the way for David to see the ugliness of his sin in light of God’s holiness. It was God who led David to have a broken spirit and contrite heart over the evil sins he had once took pleasure in. It was God who enabled David to come to him for forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration. Had it all been up to David alone, everything would have been completely different. David could have continued spiraling down, with nothing in himself to pull him out of the pit of his sin. But God, out of His own faithfulness to His covenant and steadfast love for David, pursued David despite David’s wandering. And despite how serious David had fallen, God made sure to show David that he was never out of God’s reach. If anything, how far David had strayed only showed him how far God would go to bring him back to Himself.

Dear believer, may this story and psalm of David serve as a daily encouragement and reminder to you. Although we are prone to wander away from God, God is faithful to pursue us. Jesus Himself tells us in the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18 that it is not the will of the Father who is in heaven that any of His sheep should perish. Despite how the sheep are prone to wander, and even wander far, the Shepherd is faithful to pursue them. The Lord our Great Shepherd is constantly leading and vigilantly protecting us along the path of both green pastures and dark valleys, that we may know Him more, experience Him more, and trust Him more. For that is the Shepherd’s ultimate goal, that we would increasingly learn to look to Him alone and follow His perfect lead.

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