2 Chronicles 30:18-20  Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written.  But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, ‘May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of his fathers—even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.’  And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.”


Over time, Israel had drifted away from religious practice.  Even a festival as important as Passover had been forgotten and had not been properly celebrated for several hundred years.  Hezekiah becomes king of the southern kingdom of Judah when he is 25 years old, just after the Assyrian army has turned the northern Kingdom of Israel to rubble and carried off its people.  Hezekiah figures that must have been punishment from God for the sins of Israel, so he starts off his reign with a round of major reforms.


He tears down the altars to other gods, repaired the Temple building, consecrated the priests, removed unclean vessels, lit the lamps, brought the offerings, burned the incense, sang songs to God, and then sent a notice to all the tribes inviting them to a grand celebration of Passover in Jerusalem.  It wasn’t the right time for Passover…the priests couldn’t get ready in time for that…but Hezekiah figures that God cares more about the intention than the timing, and so they go ahead—sort of like having Christmas at the end of January.  It’s a huge success.  Not only do a ton of people come to celebrate, but they end up having such a good time they extend it an extra seven days.


I think this is a really hopeful story.  No matter how far off track we’ve gotten in our walk with God, you can always pull it together and start over.  Even if it’s not exactly according to Hoyle, that’s okay.  It’s the intention to be faithful to God that matters.  God doesn’t strike Hezekiah with lightning for having Passover a month late; God blesses him for having it at all.  God doesn’t show up at Passover and say, “Well, it’s about time you did this…you know it’s been 300 years, where have you been?”  There is no scolding lecture.  God simply pours out blessings, grateful that the people have turned back to their first love…even if the timing is wrong and some people haven’t done the ritual properly.


I have found that’s how God is with me.  If my devotional life is left unattended for a time, the only consequences I suffer are the natural ones that come from distancing myself from God.  Once I get my act together and get back in the groove, God’s blessings flow again as if I had never been away.  There is no condemnation, no need to grovel, just a joy at being back in God’s presence.


So, wherever you are in your walk, take heart.  If you’ve gotten out of the habit of going to church, praying, reading the Bible, or whatever, you can always just start doing it again.  God will be delighted to have you back and you won’t get the first lecture about how bad you’ve been for dropping the ball.  As with the people of Judah, you might get so much out of it that it goes on twice as long as it normally would have.



I’m coming back, Lord.  Thank you for receiving me.  Amen.




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