Exile or Return? (Life Journal – 3/16/2015)


When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. (Deuteronomy 30:1-6 NIV)


Verse 1 begins “when” and not “if!” And God will have dispersed them – again they will find themselves far away from the land of promise.

A parallel – when they return (vs. 2), God will restore (vs. 3). When they obey, God will have compassion and re-gather them to the land of their ancestors.

When they obey with heart and soul (vs. 2), God promises to make that obedience into love (vs. 6) with heart and soul.


Exile and return are another theme woven through Scripture – the Israelites in Egypt, the people of Judah in Babylon, the prodigal son who wanders from home, the church dispersed from Jerusalem.

For me exile is a state more than place. And in the complexity of my soul I am at home in some ways and in exile in others at the same time! But where am I today in general – what is the arc of my life, the trajectory of my spirit right now today?

Is it toward the land of promise – returning to the place where God wants me to dwell? Am I obeying and learning how to obey more deeply out of love? Is my heart being circumcised anew?

Each day means asking God to show me truthfully the place of my heart – exile or promise, cursing or blessing, dispersal or obedience and love.


Lord, face me toward the land of promise. Make my heart long each day – each moment – for the place of promise. Make me obedient and make me love with all of my heart and soul. Direct my footsteps back to you where I am not facing where you will. Move me closer where I am already returning. Amen.

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