Dear brothers and sisters,
All throughout history, God has been relentlessly pursuing us. At the same time, Satan is battling to overcome us as well. Every time you or I have a thought of forgiveness or generosity, Satan will remind us of the opposite, and tempt us to sin, or tell us to give up, or that we are not worthy of God’s love. Today’s first reading was taken from the Book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah is a Jew in exile in Persia, along with the exiled Israelite nation; Jerusalem and the Temple have been destroyed and are in shambles. In chapter 1, Nehemiah confesses that it is the sin of the people that have caused this destruction; yet God wants to restore the people. Nehemiah prays, “May your ears be attentive, and your eyes open, to hear the prayer that I, your servant, now offer in your presence day and night for your servants the Israelites, confessing the sins we have committed against you, I and my ancestral house included. We have greatly offended you, not keeping the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances you entrusted to your servant Moses. But remember the admonition which you addressed to Moses, your servant, when you said: If you prove faithless, I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to me and carefully keep my commandments, even though your outcasts have been driven to the farthest corner of the world, I will gather them from there, and bring them back to the place I have chosen as the dwelling place for my name. They are your servants, your people, whom you freed by your great might and strong hand” (Nehemiah 1:6-10).
In Jesus, God is relentlessly pursuing us to restore us. Each of us has sinful patterns of behavior and attitudes that need redemption and restoration. The proper place to seek restoration is in prayer, small groups, spiritual direction or friendships, and the Sacrament of Confession. Right here, in the work of restoration, is where God’s great big story encounters our story. May we have the courage to engage this work of God’s redemption and restoration of our hearts. Questions to ponder in small groups:
Where do you feel the battle being waged over your heart? Are you able to specifically name the area of weakness where Satan tempts you to choose a small story while God calls you into a big story?
We all want to be restored. What keeps you from admitting your sins to others? How honest is the growth environment that you’re creating?
How can your relationships help you face your brokenness and help you engage the work of restoration?