Jeremiah 15:19 "Therefore thus says the LORD: "If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them."
Sometimes people say, I canít hear God, how can I know what to do? Our text gives very practical advice. If you can not hear God, then you have wandered away from God, it's that simple. It's something that every child knows. For at an early age they learn that if they go exploring, it is easy to get far enough away that you can not hear your parents voice. A child knows that they must obey their parent, but somehow the idea gets in their head, that if they cannot hear, then they are not being disobedient. They truly believe that they are not responsible for what they do not hear, and the rest follows from that. So it is that parents carefully teach their children that there are rules, that you donít have to hear, the rules are to be obeyed regardless.
Thatís the funny thing, because even today, hearing and obeying are closely tied together. We grew up in a neighborhood that extended as far as we could hear, if we couldnít hear, when the call came to come home, then we were in trouble. We were taught to listen and to be listening. Did we learn just from the words? No, the thing we remembered was what happened when we missed the call for dinner, and if we were not at the table to say grace with the rest of the family, we had missed the meal, and all that was left was to wait until the next meal. It was a hungry wait, for there were no snacks in between meals. Funny thing is, that it only had to happen once, we remembered those lessons.
If you have trouble hearing God, the reason is that you have wandered out of the neighborhood, and the answer is to return home. Its a profound truth, for if we are outside the place where we are supposed to be [a place where we can hear God] - well, this is the simplest definition of what trespassing, we closed the line, went over the fence, we are in the wrong place, and these are all ways of speaking of sin.
How do you deal with sin? You leave the sin and return to God. It is not repentance to stay where you are [in sin] and ask God to forgive. Repentance is sorrow for sin, and movement away from sin - a movement that leads us home, back to God. It is easier to hear God in his house, and that leads us to think, well, then maybe I should bring God with me. Its a good idea, as far as it goes, but it misses the point, for God does not call us to bring him where we want to go. Rather, God calls us to follow Him, and to go where he leads. And this is the second thing which leads us into sin. For Satan often whispers in our ear, Godís going the long way, hereís a shortcut, it will get you there faster. Youíd think weíd learn from our childhood, and all the other shortcuts weíve tried, they were never faster, or easier, and often they did not get us where we had planned on going. Jesus knows the way, and his path is not any longer than necessary.
But sometimes we donít know the way back. Sometimes we are stuck, and canít get out. Sometimes we canít return to God, and then God comes to us. He will carry us home, but again, we canít reach up to our fatherís arms, while we hang on to pet sins. God wonít carry our sins home, just us, and so we let go of our sins. For who wishes to remain, lost, stuck, alone, and in danger?
Its easy to hear God when he is carrying us. It is easy to hear God, when we stay in His neighborhood. It is easy to hear God when we follow him; and when we follow him, we donít get lost. And when we can hear God, we can hear what is precious, for we hear the Word of Life. As for the worthless, we know all about shortcuts that lead only to danger. This is the story that God gives us to tell, a story of our sin, and of our savior; of our wandering and of God finding; of the pitfalls of our desire and the bounty of Godís blessings - and as we tell our story of Jesus and His love, we help others to turn from their sin and return to God their Father, and Jesus our Savior. So that the story we tell by our lives, is our witness to the grace and faith we have been given through Jesus Christ, in whom we are forgiven, redeemed, loved; for by the grace of God in Jesus Christ we are the children of God, God has done all this for us in his love; how can we ever leave such a rich mercy?