Do you ever get a song stuck in your head that just lingers there for days? This happens to me constantly and, because of the way my brain works, I will often have two very different songs stuck in my head at the same time. It’s an interesting quirk about our minds, but does this ever happen to you with the Bible?
For the past month or so, there’s been one verse, in particular, that keeps springing to my mind. Every time I sit down to pray or am just chatting with a friend about the pandemic, a verse pops into my head. And, honestly, I didn’t know where it was found until I had to look it up to write this post. I know the verse and can quote it from memory, but I had no idea about the surrounding context.
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
Solomon and the priests had finished construction of the Temple and put on the greatest worship service recorded in history. Everyone was celebrating, singing, and worshiping. Together, they were focused on the goodness and grace of God for many days!
Then, after all the festivities are over, God comes to Solomon and speaks to him. There’s a huge tonal shift in this chapter between the celebrating and when God begins speaking. We go from dancing and worship to a warning from God: he was preparing Solomon (and by extension us) for what was going to come. These words from God aren’t delivered in a spooky or angry voice, but are filled with care and compassion. Thankfully, he knows the future and he gives us the tools and opportunity to prepare accordingly.
“When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, the Lord appeared to him at night and said:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:11-14 (NIV)
While reading this passage, I’m struck by the fact that God says “When I shut up the heavens…” and “if my people…”. The Lord knew that tragedies would befall the earth. He saw that hard times would come. When looking over the timeline of mankind, he identified famines and plagues and natural disasters. But because he’s given us free will, we have the option to call out to him. Over the course of history, sometimes we’ve turned to him, but other times we haven’t.
God has given us the option to choose him, we just have to take it.
Honestly, there are days when I don’t want to choose God. I want to wallow in my sadness or pain or I want to numb myself from everyone and everything around me. Sometimes it’s just easier to choose the path of least resistance instead of really and truly choosing him. The “if” in this verse is a big one, but we can choose today, as his people, to call on him, repent, and submit. When we do so, we can’t help but experience freedom and healing.
What a good God we serve!
Are there any verses that you can’t seem to shake in this season?
How can you choose God today?