I have been reading through the Old Testament for the last several months. I am reading it according to a chronological schedule that I found, rather than straight through. This morning, as I was reading, my thoughts were along the lines of, "Ugh, not again!" It seems that every other chapter is about how the Israelites have once again forgotten God. And if they have managed to turn their hearts toward Him, they neglect to fully remove the idol worship from their lives.
I can imagine that if I am this frustrated with these people, how much more so God was. I am struck by the mercy and longsuffering He exhibited towards these people, who time after time so wholly rejected Him. In myself I wonder why He didn't just wipe the earth clean of them and forget it. Yet, He continuously attempted to get their attention. He kept on trying to make them see Himself. He sent prophets. He sent disasters. He sent murderous kings. He gave them faithful rulers. He sent marauding invaders. And when the people turned to Him, He saved them. Time and time again. And time and time again, the people forgot Him.
And yet, in all my criticism of these people, I am not so different. I often find myself slipping back into my old habits. God will remind me through a circumstance that He is in charge. I will once again commit myself to putting Him first in my heart. But I leave some of those old practices and attitudes in place, just as the Israelites did not tear down and remove the Asherah poles and incense altars.
So this morning, I find myself marvelling at God's patience with me. He keeps on working on me. He hasn't wiped me out and He hasn't left me. That's how much He loves me.