I was reading the Bible today after many weeks of not even touching it. I don't know how or why it happens but I was so busy with one thing or another that eventually, even when I had the time to I wouldn't think of it; I'd try to keep myself entertained or busy instead.
I open to my daily reading and its 2nd Chronicles chapters 22-25. And in the devotional for the daily reading it points out that the saddest thing about King Josiah's time is that the Word of God has been missing for years but nobody really missed it.
Well God always has a way of letting things strike me when I'm dense... and I'm pretty dense!
I read on to see this young boy take over his father's reign in Judah. His dad, Manasseh, was the most wicked king in all of Jewish history. His 55 years of terror brought Judah to a point from which they could not be recovered spiritually or physically. In the last chapter of Manasseh's life, he finally repents - when he's broken, captive, and useless. It was too late for the kingdom.
But it wasn't too late for Josiah!
Josiah becomes king at 8 years old and doesn't seem to do much to run the kingdom until he is 18 or so. He starts getting involved in rebuilding the Temple of the Lord, and this project seems to pop up as one of the first things he does as king. As he invests in the Temple's repair, they find the Scriptures, otherwise known as "The Book of the Law". Basically all of Jewish history up until his kingdom. Everything God has ever spoken to His people. All of God's instructions thus far. All of God's warning.
The guy who finds it doesn't even know what it is! He takes it to the king and says, "Yeah we gave the money to the construction overseers and they are taking care of the temple and getting the wood and carpenters and mason work, etc... oh and by the way, we found this scroll."
But when Josiah reads it, not only does he recognize it but his heart breaks. He realizes that he hasn't done a blessed thing God has instructed. More over, the nation hasn't done a blessed thing God instructed since as far back as he had knowledge of! Somewhere there it says that they had not celebrated the Passover (the big celebration God instructed the Hebrews to do in memory of their exodus out of Egypt and their freedom from slavery) since the times of King Solomon! How much time was that? Well, King Solomon was like the 3rd king in Israel... Josiah was the 3rd-to-last king in Judah before the Babylonians wiped everything clean and stripped them all away to captivity.
Josiah prays and repents, and sends the priests to ask God if all the judgment they deserve was coming upon Judah. God responds with a "Yes, but because you have turned to me with all your heart, it will not happen while you are alive to see it." The judgment of exile was inevitable; hundreds of years had already turned the gears in motion, the Babylonians growing stronger and practically at the door. Multiple sieges had already happened. But in God's mercy, He listened to Josiah's heart, and gave Josiah a second chance.
Josiah went to work with his second chance too. He wasn't satisfied with, "Oh, I'll be ok. Nevermind then." It seems he still tried to turn the nation right side up again, even though it didn't outlive him. He tore up the asherah poles, destroyed the molech altar, cleaned up the temple, instituted the Passover again... Spent the rest of his life trying to clean up hundreds of years of idolatry until he was killed in battle by the Egyptian Pharaoh.
Then the book ends with siege after siege until finally the Babylonians take everything, burn the temple to the ground, destroy the wall of Jerusalem, and leave it like a ghost town.
I want to have a change of heart like Josiah. I don't want to be ok with the Word being missing from my life. I realized how thin and gray the line between a relationship with God and a religion goes, how suddenly I found my self on the side of a dead religion!
Man, how good it felt to pray, and count my blessings, and truly tell God how sorry I was. I had built up little shrines of idolatry based on selfishness, busyness, worry, and distraction. But God in His mercy didn't just let me go. He had been working in my heart answering prayer, showing me a light at the end of this particular tunnel I was going through. He was still my Shepherd, calling me as I was straying further and further away. I still don't know why today was different than the past couple of weeks and I just decided to pick up my Bible and read it. I am thankful that, unlike Josiah, there isn't an irrevocable wave of destruction headed towards me and my children. There isn't centuries of idolatry and immorality to undo.
I asked Jesus to protect my children from the effects that these past 2 weeks might've had on them; that their hearts wouldn't be hardened, that they would still be open and eager to come to know Him, and that I didn't in any way hurt them (by omission or commission). I asked him for help in healing Caleb, remembering the scripture in Mark where the man with leprosy approached Jesus and said, "If you are willing, you can make me clean!" The Bible says that Jesus was full of compassion and said, "I am willing..." I know He has compassion for us, and for Caleb, and is willing to touch His little body. But most of all, I asked Him to turn my heart back to Him. It isn't something that I can do, or that church can do. But He can draw me in to a relationship that my heart will follow.