I’ve been reading through Jeremiah during my quiet times. It’s tearing me up.
“Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been ravished? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers…” (Jeremiah 3:2)
Ouch. There isn’t a single place in all the land that you haven’t defiled with your harlotry. Not one square inch. And then she has the audacity to do this:
For they have turned their back to me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they say, ‘Arise and save us!’ (Jeremiah 2:27)
A woman has just finished giving herself to a man that is not her husband and she goes out and finds that her car has a flat tire. She knows nothing about changing a flat tire and her sugar daddy isn’t much help with such things. Her husband, though, he’s an expert. And so from her lovers house she calls up her hubby and has the audacity to ask him to come to her lovers house and change her flat.
This is what is happening in Jeremiah.
God and the Tire Change
And here is the crazy thing. There are many times when he comes and changes the flat tire. That’s what we see in Hosea. Jeremiah. Ezekiel. Isaiah. All over the Bible. God meets the harlot with mercy and kindness.
Of course this kindness is meant to lead her to repentance. But instead she gets the crazy idea that this God isn’t really just. He isn’t really all that powerful. He doesn’t really care about sin. He won’t do anything to us. He’ll always change the tire. That’s just who he is.
Until one day he doesn’t.
Like in Jeremiah 2:28—when God essentially says, “have your sugar daddy change the tire”. On those days he leaves us in the weak hands of our feeble idols. He challenges us—and them– “See if they can save you”.
And they don’t. Sugar Daddy can’t change a flat tire. He’s just a shiny underwear model–a set of chiseled abs whose only function is to make promises he can’t keep. And like every other idol when it comes to dealing with the wreckage of your life, he’s hopeless.
When Sugar Daddy Fails
And when the sugar daddy fails what does the harlot do?
Naturally, she gets upset at her husband for not coming and changing the tire. How dare he? Doesn’t he love me? How could he be so unfaithful? How could he be such a jerk?
Here is where I’m astounded by grace.
I’m the harlot in this story. Even as a Christian I see remnants of this harlotry in my heart. I’ve had the audacity to call out to God when my idols have failed me. And I’ve been even more audacious to question his goodness and love when he tells me that I’ve got to set in the consequence of my sin.
But here is the crazy part. Both of God’s responses to my foolishness are meant root out sin and unbelief and create in me a heart to enjoy Him more. It’s to win me over—for my good and for His glory.
When he comes and changes the flat tire his kindness and mercy is meant to lead me to repentance. Sweet repentance. Where I realize the emptiness of my idols and the beauty of my God.
When he tells me to get my own tire changed his rod of correction is meant to lead me back home. He hasn’t abandoned me. He’s leading me. He’s loving me. He’s rescuing me. He’s showing me up close how futile my idols are and how wayward my heart really is.
He is radically dedicated to rooting idolatry out of my heart and replacing it with a passionate worship of Him.
He should have cast me off. He should have hung up the phone and left me permanently to the emptiness of my idols. But he gives me grace. Time and time and time again.
He could have just as easily chosen to not lavish grace upon me. My story could just as easily have been that his kindness and mercy never led me to repentance. And in this instance each change of the tire would have been heaping up wrath. His handing me over wouldn’t have been to win me back—it would have just been a foreshadow of the hell to come.
But he didn’t. He gave me grace.
How in the world can I ever complain about anything?
photo credit: Théo La Photo via photopin cc