Return to the Lord

July 26, 2015

Did you ever take a wrong turn? Either while driving or in life, the consequences can be pretty frustrating. Now some people dismiss that evil exists, or that there are wrong choices at all. Also, many wrongdoings may happen in secret – no one else feels the consequences. Plus, people’s consciences may have different levels of sensitivity.

Yet, even if we allow for a wide field of different learning curves – some rights can be wrong and some wrongs can be right; life being life, at some junction or another, we all experience that certain choices simply have no other outcome than hurt, brokenness, shame.

Once we have taken one of those wrong turns, we tend to go in a variety of directions – run away, hide under the covers, feeling stuck, drink an extra glass, ponder endlessly. We question ourselves, we question God, we question whatever there is to question. The incident can sometimes be small, but the impact considerable depending on the circumstances in our life. Some people develop their arguments against God during this trial season.

Because such trial times can be quite challenging, every baptism celebration includes a line with guidance on how to handle these types of situations. This guidance is actually formulated as a vow. The guidance points to the direction we almost never would take: returning to God.  “Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?”
Few things seem more difficult than this action track. Because in times of guilt or wrongdoings we tend to run away from others, certainly from God.

Yet, our renewal and liberation comes through reconnection. Several stories of Jesus call for this approach, the most famous one is the story of the prodigal son. Jesus’ focus is not on the imperative, that we should return, but on the healing, that it is best for the well-being of our lives that we don’t burden others even further, or don’t leave ourselves burdened any longer. And so, it turns out that the best, most liberating, most renewing approach, is to return to the Lord.

This summer our services are spiced with a reflection on the baptismal vows. They are part of baptism. At some point in our lives we made these vows or promises and we renew them regularly during throughout the year. Reasons enough to spend some extra reflection on their meaning and importance. These reflections may come in handy, especially when the rubber hits the road, when our faith meets reality, including the reality of taking a wrong turn. At those frustrating times, these parts of our faith, the guidance of this vow, can be helpful. I pray that we all find comfort in returning to God, that we all may grow in the awareness that our faith seeks to liberate us more and more, and that God is waiting for us, especially whenever we “fall.”

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