always backsliding.

Hosea 11:1-7 (NKJV)

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
As they called them,
So they went from them;
They sacrificed to the Baals,
And burned incense to carved images.

“I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them.

“He shall not return to the land of Egypt;
But the Assyrian shall be his king,
Because they refused to repent.
And the sword shall slash in his cities,
Devour his districts,
And consume them,
Because of their own counsels.
My people are bent on backsliding from Me.
Though they call to the Most High,
None at all exalt Him.”

The key to the whole problem with Israel is in the middle of this passage.

I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.

Right after they crossed the Red Sea, no one wondered who it was that parted the waters. They had no illusions that it was just luck, or the Baals, or whatever. They knew it was the LORD.

But now it’s not so obvious. They know about the LORD from the scrolls and from the teachings of their elders, but they can’t see Him. So their bent towards disbelief makes them skeptical. Thus, each generation loses a bit more of the faith.

This is where, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me,” leads.

Nowadays this backsliding bent is part of our individual walks. Our faith is strengthened by answered prayer or other glimpses of Him, but in between those boosts our faith gradually decays.

In “The Screwtape Letters” by CS Lewis, Screwtape calls this “undulation.” Electrical engineers call it a reverse sawtooth wave pattern. I call it my life. Even when I’m on a long-term growth path, 99-percent of the time I’m losing ground. The growth comes in great bursts, then I revert to my normal state of backsliding.

But here’s the kicker—it’s all good. Amazingly, this is one of God’s main methods for growing His people. Backsliding leads to low points, and those low points are the secret sauce. Whether in my spiritual bottoms, or in Israel’s captivity in Assyria, these “times that try men’s souls” are key.

It seems that I’m ready to grow only when I’m angry at myself.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.