Return to Your God

Open Your Bible

Hosea 12:1-14, Psalm 135:13-21, Revelation 19:11-16

I am a recent and reticent convert to hiking. Moving from the flat Midwest to a state of unending mountains, there’s a certain peer pressure to become a more outdoorsy girl—the type who likes to hike. The problem is that hiking sounds wonderful to me in theory, but the reality of slowly trudging up and up and up is not always as fun.

So a couple of hours into a spontaneous hike with my husband, I was ready to be done. Tired, hungry, and lost, it felt like we were getting nowhere and only increasing our chances of being eaten by a bear. Growing “hangrier” by the minute, I convinced my husband—at this point, probably more afraid of being eaten by me rather than a bear—to head back. 

About fifty feet back down the worn path, a woman came walking in the direction we had just abandoned.

This woman had hiked these woods before, and she knew the mountaintop was just out of sight, beyond the ridge. She assured us the view from there was absolutely breathtaking and worth every inch of hiking heartache. How could we give up now, knowing we were so close? 

Feeling a bit foolish, we did a 180-degree about-face, and with renewed hope in our step, we ascended to a clearing. Sitting in silence, staring out at mountains for miles, I realized what we would’ve missed if that woman had not encouraged us to keep going.

In our walk with God, it can be just as easy to get distracted, tired, and lost along the way. 

Do you ever feel like you’ve drifted too far from God to ever come back? Maybe you’re lost in the forest and don’t know just how close the mountaintop really is.

The book of Hosea reminds us that even when we are unfaithful, God is faithful. Even when we’ve given up, God pursues us. Our God called Hosea to take an unfaithful wife and be relentlessly compassionate toward her. This demonstrates God’s character and just how much He loved wayward Israel—how He loves us, too, rebellious sinners though we are.

God declares loud and clear: there is nothing you can do to lose the Father’s love (Romans 8:31–39). 

It can be difficult for us to grasp the unfailing love of God because it seems so counterintuitive to the way we operate out of our humanity. When we’re hurt, our instinct is often to hurt someone in return or withdraw our love altogether. When people disappoint us time and again, we start to give up on them. To think we can hurt and disappoint God endlessly, yet He still draws near to us, is unfathomable! 

Our Lord isn’t some begrudging judge, waiting for us to shape up on our own. He comes to rescue us, helping us turn back to Him (Hosea 12:6). He is the loving Father, running unashamedly toward His prodigal child (Luke 15:20). He is the Good Shepherd who goes off in search of just one lost sheep (Luke 15:4).

Sometimes the climb is tedious and disheartening and downright painful. In those moments it’s tempting to give up and turn away. But what we might not be able to see through the trees is the most magnificent view up ahead: our gracious Father, extending His arms and calling us home. 

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65 thoughts on "Return to Your God"

  1. Mikayla Bowers says:

    Even when we’ve given up, God pursues us. ❤️

  2. Heather Schmudlach says:

    Thank goodness he is always there…waiting for us, with arms wide open

  3. Heidi Mailand says:

    Hi Whitney! I have a six year old too, he is a very emotional person. He has said the craziest things about us the last couple years. I have realized he isn’t the best communicator so I keep it short and sweet. Short devotions with pretty pictures (like Sally Lloyd Jones’ Thoughts to make your heart sing). Anything you can do to make it fun at this age if you can. Try blowing bubbles while saying prayers and tell her each bubble is like a prayer going up to God! Praying for you Whitney, keep trying ❤️

  4. Allison Sherwood says:

    God is calling us home, and we should never give up! What a beautiful reminder of what’s at the end of this race

  5. Jennifer Lumley says:

    So thankful for the promise that God never gives up on us.

  6. Brandie Wade says:

    I don’t know why I need this but I just know I do. So thank you for speaking this into me, preparing me for what is to come!

  7. Daniela Ramirez says:


  8. Martha Echandy says:

    Hi Whitney. Follow Christie Thomas Little Shoots Deep Roots, a community of Christian moms. It’s my prayer you receive this message and be blessed.

  9. Jenny Horsley says:

    I’m loving the words
    God is relentlessly compassionate towards us.

  10. Jenny Horsley says:

    I’m loving the words

  11. Becky says:

    Whitney, I myself and I have heard so many other parents share… how the recent book ~ LOVE CENTERED PARENTING by C.Paine has been so very helpful and encouraging and very different than any other parenting book!! (If it’s difficult to purchase books right now, I’ve heard that many have found it in their library!) ❤️❤️

  12. Whitney Autumn says:

    Dorothy- thank you for this. Needed it this morning.

  13. Whitney Autumn says:

    Wow what a testimony of his faithfulness. Thanks so much for sharing.

  14. Whitney Autumn says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing. What a testimony of His faithfulness…

  15. Whitney Autumn says:

    Needed this today. Lately, my 6 year old has been acting like she doesn’t like me. As a single mom, who battles depression, it hits hard. I had nightmares all night about failing. I am trying to raise her to love God; to offer her plenty opportunity to love Jesus – she resists prayer as most kids this age probably do? I don’t know.

    1. Shelli Hankins says:

      Praying for you now Whitney! Don’t give up! God is with you each step of the way!

  16. Abigail Berger says:


  17. Kristen says:

    But what we might not be able to see through the trees is the most magnificent view up ahead: our gracious Father, extending His arms and calling us home. Beautiful visual! Thank You, Lord!

  18. Beverly E Watley says:

    I am in so much awe of our Lord that he loves us while we’re still in our mess. Hosea is a great example of His undying love. Even when we turn away from Him, he still loves us. Nothing we can do to change that.

  19. Nichole Hobson says:

    My prayers are for us all. That we would stay close the the Living Word of God. That we deny ourselves pick up our cross & follow Him. Be encouraged.

  20. Sky Hilton says:

    This means a lot to me. Not so long ago (only 2 years ago) I was heavily considering never talking to God ever again, and leaving the faith. I was so bitter, frustrated and mad. But then, I made the best choice I have made in my entire life: I chose to trust God one more time. Since then, I couldn’t imagine living without Him. HE has made me an entirely different person. I want to serve Him forever, and never take away myself from Him every again. I pray for those who are struggling with their own faith to please go to Him one more time. You will NEVER regret it

  21. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I loved listening to the podcast yesterday. It was so convicting to think of all of the idols I have in my life. I remember thinking, what can I do to stop sacrificing to these idols? I loved what the speakers in the podcast said, “worship God.” In other words, return to God. I think so often instead of focusing on what we should stop doing, we need to focus on what we can start doing. ❤️

  22. Traci Gendron says:

    MAURA – your comment about God holding our face in his hands, brought tears to my eyes. What a visual! Thank you!
    I have started listening to the podcast. Why I waited so long, I have no idea. Time?
    Hosea 8 is so evident in todays world. Taking all credit for our successes. Foolish behavior. We think of idols as material things. The podcast talked about idolizing our success, education, intelligence. God gave you that brain! Always put your hope in God, not in yourself. Amazing to think we can hurt and disappoint God endlessly and yet He still draws near to us. He will look for every lost sheep.
    Thank you for your prayers dear ladies. It means so much!

  23. Traci Gendron says:


  24. Dorothy says:

    Though I may turn my back on my Lord and Savior He WILL NEVER, EVER turn His back on me. I’m reading Joyce Meyer’s book, “Help Me I’m Worried” (another short read but with much meaning) and in it she said, “Worry is the opposite of faith.” I had to write that down and put it up where I could read it regularly.
    Have a blessed and wonderful day sisters and remember He is there for you when you need Him and even when think you don’t.

  25. PamC says:

    Praying for all the requests….for healing all the hurts, and for the truth of God to shine so we see it clearly…both for ourselves and our families too. Hugs and love to all y’all.

  26. Kathy says:

    LAURA, my heart is aching for you this morning. I read your comment from yesterday but didn’t comment back. I did pray for your daughter and you and your husband. I can’t imagine the heartbreak you are feeling. For what it’s worth I believe that you are doing the correct thing, the godly thing, for your daughter.
    It makes me think of the story of the Prodigal Son. His father let him go even though he knew that his son was making a terrible mistake. I imagine that the father spent many, many nights on his knees praying that God would bring his son home, but he didn’t go looking for him and he didn’t condone what his son was doing.
    Stay strong. You can love your daughter without having to condone anything that she’s doing. I will continue to pray for all of you.

  27. Victoria E says:

    Laura- I missed your comment yesterday but see yours here today. I am praying for you and your family. Mari V I hope you are recovering well.

  28. Gloria Penner says:

    Laura, ❤❤

  29. Gloria Penner says:

    Hi, ladies! I’ve been in a Sunday school class with this program. Now that Sunday school has started, we’re not sharing in discussion about this any more. So i am jumping in with you all if that’s okay. Sounds like you all have a very deep relationship with each other already. You hold each other accountable, care deeply for each other. The love of God is evident in your words. I love your honesty too. I have not been very good at that lately. So i will try. 30 years ago, i told my husband i did not love him any more. He asked, “do you want to stay together?” I said, “of course”. “Then, you still love me”, he said and explained it when he saw my confused face. His wisdom, and tough love was so compelling, i walked out of that room with a passion for my husband. That felt good as I hadn’t felt any feeling of any sort for the past 2 years; soon after, i gave up my birth control pills and my feelings rushed back into play. My husband’s reaction was so godly back then. But his heart was not; he was crushed and just yesterday, brought up his pain again. There is nothing i can do to help him. He has come to believe something about himself, a lie, and only God’s Truth revealed will set him free. This is my prayer for my husband. If you’re led to, i would covet your prayers as well since i have prayed this many times for years on end without a stitch if difference. I pray the lie he believes about himself will be revealed to him and God’s Truth to be revealed so that he may be free of this anxious thought/belief. My husband & i have grown closer to God and our marriage is strong – defined as we drive each other crazy each and every day we choose to stay. Every day that choice becomes easier and easier… With the exceptional day; so, a stronger marriage. Back to the lesson today: God chose to love them in spite of their sins. He chooses to love us. His wisdom and tough love is very compelling.

  30. Foster Mama says:

    LEXI B, Thank you! I needed the words you gave JILLIAN yesterday…I am also in a period of waiting and a “fix it IMMEDIATELY” person… questioning if it is God or others counselling me to wait.

    LAURA, I am bathing you in prayer ❤️ That’s all I can do. Praying for wisdom and deep peace…and for God to “woo” every wayward heart. I understand that your heartbreak is not necessarily that your daughter has sinned but, that she has committed to a life of sin….Lord, I don’t know exactly what to pray but, I trust that YOU know what is needed and You hold Laura, her husband, and her clearly beloved daughter in the palm of Your hand.

    Lord, WISDOM for each of us navigating treacherous waters in this life. I echo VICTORIA E…help us to recognize any voice that is not Yours in EVERY moment of our lives and give us power to renounce the enemy!!


    I LOVED EVERY word of today’s Devo. It made me think AGAIN about Galatians 6:8-10 .

  31. Renee K says:

    Laura, I’m so sorry for the heartbreak and sorrow this all brings!! I am praying for you to have courage and hope, anchored in faith as you seek to be obedient to the Lord in this matter. I’m praying for your daughter too that the Lord would set her free from the lies she has become entangled in. He is able!!!

  32. Cynthia Johnston says:

    God’s heart toward us is gentle and lowly. Matthew 11:28-30 “Come, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

  33. Tash P says:

    Dear Laura, in a world that celebrates and accepts these sins, I so appreciate your stance and I will pray God blesses you for being firm in Him and His word and His truth. I can’t even imagine how hard this is. I pray your daughter turns from her path of darkness to Jesus and his light. I pray you can rest in Him. He’s got this and is holding you close.

  34. Cynthia Johnston says:

    Dear Laura, My husband and I are walking the same path you are. It is very difficult to know how to show love without condoning sin. We have prayerfully been lead to attend her wedding next spring. We are loving on her and her partner with the love of Jesus. It is hard because I love them both and want them to understand this is how they are not who they are. Sin is like ice cream. We each have a favorite flavor. I know you and your husband are doing the best you can. I will join you in praying for your daughter as well as wisdom for you. ♥️

  35. Cindy H. says:

    Laura, My heart breaks for you as you stand strong for the Lord in the situation with your daughter. Jesus warns in Scripture (Matthew 10:34-39, Luke 12:49-53) that our stand for Him may cause division within our households. We are to love Him above all. I know your decision is a difficult one every day and I pray for strength for you and your husband as you stand in Christian love and conviction. May God bless you and may your daughter’s heart be turned to Him by your example. Stand firm in Christ.

  36. Lynne from Alabama says:

    I am so sorry. I posted that comment to Julia when it should have been for Laura. Oops!

  37. Lynne from Alabama says:

    Julia–I am so sorry that you are going through such heartache! I admire the fact that, unlike many other parents who find out their children are living worldly lifestyles, you have stuck by your convictions and what you know to be the Truth. You can continue to love your daughter but you do not have to accept her poor choices. I will continue to pray for strength, wisdom, courage, and peace for you and your husband as you walk through this. I will also pray that your daughter will turn from these wicked ways.

  38. Mari V says:

    Do I ever feel so drifted from God, that I think I cannot come back? I don’t want to ever get to that point! I was so moved when I read this. My God has done so much for me, I’m healing and moving forward I’m stronger. All because of Jesus. I am forever grateful. No, I never want to get to that point.

  39. SarahJoy says:

    LAURA – how heartbreaking. I’m sorry. May God draw near.

    I like to recommend Ellie Holcomb’s music. One of my favorite songs in dark days is “Find You Here.”

  40. Rhonda J says:

    Dear Laura, I do apologize, I wasn’t trying to tell you directly how to respond, it’s just that those types of situations have been on my mind a lot. I am proud of you for taking a hard stand for God’s word, that must be so hard and challenging. I’ve often wondered what I would do in situations like that. My son has plans to move in with his girlfriend after his last year of college this Spring. And I have been trying to figure out how to approach that because if we take a stand against one sin (homosexual couples), shouldn’t we take it against all? I feel so lacking in this area always. I myself was in a bad work enviroment in my twenties, and my mom loved me through,B it keeping her judgment back. And now my niece is in the same situation and my sister and I talk about it often.
    But this sight really is to learn God’s word and utilize it. We all could go into details of the many trials and problems we have, life is hard.
    Again I’m sorry it came out in the wrong way. I know you have asked for lots of prayer and I will continue to pray! xoxo

  41. Kimberly Zoss says:

    I have been feeling the same, Jill. This was a much needed reminder for God’s faithfulness and presence and love.

  42. Kimberly Zoss says:

    Katie, that was a wonderful example! Thank you for your words today with the reading.

  43. Jill Lee says:

    I needed to hear this today. Feeling lost and alone, and needed to be reminded to keep going because my Father will not fail me. He is faithful when I am not. Thankful.

  44. Lisa Z says:

    Dear Laura. So sorry to hear you felt chastised. I read your comment yesterday and did not respond. I hear your pain. It sounds so tough
    I am probably of the love your daughter through it bent. I have three adult children not closely walking with the Lord. I often feel convicted that I have not been a good enough example. I am but a rebellious sinner in need of a savior.
    I do not understand why many Christians seem to focus on certain sins. Sin is sin. I’m pretty sure I sin often with my mouth with discouraging words. I used to think my biggest sin would be the abortion I had decades ago. Then i felt the lord pointing out my disrespectful, discouraging language towards my husband. I felt as though He was convicting me to forgive myself for the long ago abortion and get busy taking current sins to His feet.
    What i hope you can feel here, Laura, is the love I have for you in this struggle. I would probably attend the ceremonies and love on your daughter. But first, I would love on and encourage you. I would cry with you.
    The Christian walk is not an easy one, no matter how you choose to handle this. I am sending love and hugs.

  45. Heather Hahn says:


  46. Foster Mama says:

    PRAYER REQUEST – I just found out that a pre-teen girl I LOVE has attempted a couple of times to end her life. Her affect has been flat and she is extremely “shy” for quite a while now but, we now strongly suspect it is clinical depression…PLEASE pray her parents find the RIGHT help for her!! (ideally a psych professional who also KNOWS Jesus)


    MARI V – It’s possible I missed a comment from you but, how has your week been so far with your pink, sparkly cast and crutches?!? I imagine it is exhausting but, I pray you are getting the support you need and enjoying the work / kiddos.

  47. hope says:

    I’ve started to read both he reads truth and she reads truth together. This morning, over on he reads truth, Matt Capps talks about the difference between regret and repentance. I highly recommend reading it. Very grateful for both commentaries today. They’re both convicting.

    I was struck by Psalm 135: 15-18 this morning.

    15 The idols of the nations are of silver and gold,made by human hands.
    16 They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see.
    17 They have ears but cannot hear;indeed, there is no breath in their mouths. 18 Those who make them are just like them,as are all who trust in them.

    When we put our trust in idols, we are like the idols themselves… eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear, no breath in our mouths. I know am guilty of making idols. Lord, please show me my idols.

  48. SarahJoy says:

    LAURA – I can only imagine the heartache. I’m so sorry. May you sense God drawing you close as you walk this challenging situation.

    One of my favorite singers to share when people are going through a difficult time is Ellie Holcomb. Many of her songs remind me that “life is hard and God is here.”

    This is one of the ones I go back to often:

  49. SarahJoy says:

    LAURA – I can only imagine the heartache. I am so sorry. May you sense God’s presence as you seek Him and His heart in this situation.

    One of my favorite singers to point people to in the midst of challenging times is Ellie Holcomb. She basically says “life is hard and God is here.”

    This is one of my favorites.

  50. Laura says:

    Good morning, Shes. My heart felt very heavy this morning after reading the comments from yesterday. I felt chastised by what I had shared about my wayward daughter. I know that no one intended that, but I wanted to caution Christians in general to watch saying,”You just need to love them through their sin.” And “We are not the Holy Spirit in their lives.” It has been very damaging to me and my husband as we have walked this journey that we believe God is calling us to walk. We do love our daughter. With our whole hearts. To imply otherwise is very hurtful. But is loving her through her sin attending her marriage to another woman? Is loving her through her sin calling her partner by the pronouns that she has insisted we call her, even though it goes against who God made her to be? Is it attending their house-warming celebration when they moved in together? These are things that our daughter is insisting we do to demonstrate our “love” for her. If we were to do those things, I believe that we would be feeding into the lies that she is believing about herself, which are straight from Satan. That is not love. So we have taken a very hard stance. It is heartbreaking. Believe me. Every day. But we will not condone her sin. It would not be God honoring to do so. But we do love her. We love her so much that we are willing to be apart from her at this point and trust that God Himself will break through her stubborn and wayward heart. I apologize if this comes across harshly. It is not my intent. But there are parents dealing with this every day, and it is not easy to navigate. And we feel very alone at times in our decisions but until God tells us to do things differently, we wait, pray and trust God.

  51. Sissy M says:


  52. Maura says:

    Isn’t it incredible such love. The faithful love of the Father the gift of Jesus, the Word of God. The sacrifice for a sinful people to set free the captives caught in sin, He doesn’t leave us in idolatry, or abandon us in addiction, prostitution, lies, instead Jesus sees the person, the creation, not to humiliate, or demean, but to love with compassion, mercy, grace. He lifts up, redeems, holds our face in His hands and calls us beloved. But for the grace of God, I am lost. Praise our Jesus Sisters, may our strength be found in Him alone. Hugs to you all, Tina good to see your comments again. The battle belongs to the Lord, The Word of God, is His name. I do love that.

  53. Aimee DiCicco-Ruhl says:

    Lord thank you for always loving, always pursuing. Amen

  54. Jessica Fehland says:

    Love this beautiful reminder!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

  55. Leisha Bowman says:

    This gives me hope! Both for me on my journey to really get to know God and for my husband, who has turned from him because of people claiming to follow Christ but not showing their love of God through their actions or words. Please pray for him to find comfort and know that God is still here for him.

  56. Elaine Morgan says:

    ❤️ There is nothing you can do to lose the Father’s love! I love this!! Gives me hope and courage to face this cold hard world today. Thank you Father!!!!

  57. Julia Guice says:

  58. Jaime Hoctor says:

    Thank you for this, absolutely beautiful!

  59. Niki Edwards says:

    So very thankful God does not give up on us. On me. How refreshing to be reminded!

  60. Kelly says:

    “But you must return to your God.
    Maintain love and justice,
    and always put your hope in God.”

    God is the only place to put our hope. He will not disappoint. He is ready to receive us and empower us to love Him and others well.

    Praying for your requests ❤

  61. Blessed Beth says:

    Oh what a peaceful pleasant devotion, we need a reminder that we are the ones that walk away not God He constantly and endlessly awaits us.

  62. Carol Rimmer says:

    Wonderful devotion today. God will remain faithful. We must return to Him.
    Jesus is a wonderful shepherd, the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

  63. Arina says:

    Amen, we’re never too far from home. Never too far from our Father, endlessly forgiving. How I need His grace. My life is a constant cycle of sinning and running away, but He is always there, waiting for me to turn back to Him. Not to punish me, but to hold me in His loving arms.

  64. Mary Ann Graves says:

    Such beautiful images came to me from this reading today. God is love