Deuteronomy 30:4(b) “From there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back” (NIV).

Observation: God spoke in this passage of restoration. Through Moses, He predicted that Israel would stray even though they were now poised to enter Canaan, their land of promise. But His emphasis in these verses was on their future return to the Lord and their subsequent restoration to their inheritance. He said if Israel would obey the law with their heart and soul, He would restore their fortunes and regather them “even if [they] have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens” (Deut. 30:4a).

Application: Today’s passage reminds again that the fulness of God inhabits all the pages of His Book. There are among us some who have overlooked love in reading the Old Testament, and who would discard law in the New. From the beginning, God has required both. He demands strict, complete obedience from those who would desire to be His, but He consistently says that His ownership is dependent not just on our rule following, but on the set of our hearts.

He has always sought far more than just my steely resolve to stop breaking His rules. Raw obedience has never been sufficient to achieve intimacy with Him. Having made me in His image, I should not be surprised that my heart works like His.

Remember that parenting episode when you were horrified to realize you had “lost” your child? You corrected one whom you saw walking in increasing disobedience. Earlier infantile petulance had blossomed into more open rebellion. Now, you face a son who increasingly alarms by the friends he runs with, or a daughter who has become too attracted to the provocative fashions of the day. Your pleading and admonitions fall on ears increasingly deaf and a heart sickenly deadened toward your desire for intimacy. Are you to be satisfied by sullen acquiescence from such a child? Of course not.

Such hollow commitment is of little comfort. I inherently understand that if the child doesn’t wholeheartedly desire to please and obey me, he or she is still lost to me. Deep grieving over lost relationship is unfathomable to such a child, as his heart is walled off from mine. It matters little that he makes outward pretense of a renewed commitment to break no further rules, but an omniscient God always knows. Obedience is not credited to our account unless it has been led by our heart’s devotion to Him, a passionate commitment to loving God above all else. In the end, I must know that God will never be content with my most steely resolve. Only wholehearted devotion satisfies.

Prayer: Father, there have been seasons of great resolve in my life, but they were dry and lifeless. Thank You for reminding me of my own life experiences to understand why such resolve alone is so inadequate.