“But now, our God, what can we say after this?”
— Ezra 9:10a (NIV)
In context, the people of God had sinned greatly. They were aghast at their betrayal before the Lord, and they knew they were being punished less than was deserved.
We too have those times of shame before God. But, there’s a broader application of God we don’t see when we come to the end of ourselves, through all manner of fatigue.
‘What Now?’ Moments
Each person in life is brought to ‘what now?’ moments for benefit, not demise.
It can only be a fresh beginning at these ends. The end of ourselves is where life truly begins. It’s like the person who stops forcing their way, and instead they simply look up and pray: “God, what now... what is your will for me to do?”
The Lord loves these moments. Life has shifted to how it was meant to be. Things for that moment are in order. God’s mercy and grace are known.
The ‘what now?’ moment is seen from retrospect as the revelatory reality. It’s the moment God broke through our inner world to help.
This must have been how it was like for Ezra and his countrymen and women as they were broken on the ground before God in the sight of their country’s sin.
Of course, there is also the ‘what now?’ moment we experience when someone else has sinned against God by hurting us; we must ask, “Okay, God, now what do I do?” and be prepared to listen to and heed the divine answer. We respond in patience, still praying for perspective.
The Right Response to Sin
Everyone sins. Therefore, everyone has need of reparation and restoration through restitution. Making restitution is about the right response. Firstly, it’s acknowledgement upon awareness. Then it’s about vocalising or demonstrating acceptance of the fact. Instead of, “I owe you, God,” the prayer is, “Please forgive me, Lord.”
Thankfully, the Lord hears. Forgiveness is ours.
Finally, once it’s felt we’re on the right foot to proceed with—motivated to trust and obey God again—we’re asking, “Okay, what now, God?”
Once this moment is achieved we stand again buoyed by the Spirit of God in all that is to be done, according to God’s will. With a God-satisfied certainty we stride off in the joy of knowing—just for now—we’ve pleased God in our faith to return.
There is no condemnation for those now in Christ Jesus, no not ever (Romans 8:1). When we consider that God actively seeks us to repent for our own good and not his, we suddenly get this mode of God redeeming us, afresh. God is for us, never against us.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.