February 15, 2021

Back on Course

And the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you; but deliver us this day!”
Judges 10:15
Picture mission control in Houston during a crisis. A problem with a rocket has caused a mission to go off-course. It's just a slight misdirection, but if it continues, the spacecraft will be lost. For many hours, the ground crew as well as the crew on board the ship work against the clock to fix the problem and recalculate. For those watching from earth, the spacecraft is just a blip on a screen on a course which will result in certain death. The calculations have all been done, and the work has been completed. Now they must wait to see if the problem has been corrected. After several tense minutes—so long that they're certain that the result of their labor is failure—they witness the tiniest change in course of the computer blip. It worked! Mission control erupts in cheers. The space crew has been saved.

I don't know if that exact scenario ever actually happened. But it's something I imagine I've seen either in old NASA footage or in a movie. And it's what I imagine when I think about Luke 15:7—

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Our God loves us and has set us on the way of life. But we are not robots. We have minds of our own, and sometimes we wander off the path... heck, sometimes we run off the path, so enthralled are we by something that, in the end, offers no life at all. God's mind hasn't been changed by our actions, however. God calls out to us gently, guiding us back to where we should be. And when there's a change in direction—when the course that would eventually lead us far from home changes, and a misguided pilgrim heads back onto the path of life, there is more rejoicing in heaven than there is at mission control when a spacecraft is brought back on the correct bearing. 
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Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Thank you, O God, for showing me the way of life, and for loving me enough to call out to me when I veer off of it. But thank you most of all for teaching me that, from heaven's viewpoint, I am more than just a blip on a screen: I am your beloved child, and I matter in your eyes.
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After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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