"He leaves the ninety-nine..." These words have been playing over and over again in my spirit, which has left much time for thought on the matter. As I grew up I had a very morphed view of who God was. I imagined Him as a moody, irrational God who mostly crossed his arms and threw people into pits when He was feeling a little irritated. I certainly didn't view God as a faithful, kind, loving, generous Father. It wasn't until I was much older that I began to really ask God to reveal His heart to me, that I was able to feel a sliver of His compassion.
Sometimes I think it is easy for us to view God just as I did in my younger years. We become conditioned and accustomed to the attitudes and reactions of the flawed humans that surround our everyday life, and if we aren't careful its these very personality traits that we use to mold God within our mind. How have you decided within yourself that God behaves? Does it match the biblical account for His goodness? Does it correlate with His faithfulness? Is your image of God fueled by faith and hope? Do you long to truly understand the magnitude of His love?
The Bible tells us that our Father loves us so much, that while we are wondering, lost, confused and feeling unloved... He searches for us. And no only does He search for us, but He has a party when we come back. I have always been mesmerized by this story in the Bible, and it wasn't until earlier this week that I realized that the lost sheep in the story (see Matthew 18:12 and Luke 15:4) was just that - lost. You see, we can likely rationalize that someone would want to do something nice for a person who is being nice to them. But the Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Now- I don't know about you, but dying for a person who wants nothing to do with me, doesn't sound like a good time. However, it is this very love that we have a hard time understanding that propelled Christ to the cross.
Now, back to the sheep story ... In this parable there were ninety-nine other sheep. That means the majority of the sheep were with the shepherd. 99 out of 100 sheep were being good little sheep. But there was one that got away. We don't know if this sheep got lost along the way, if it was injured (church-hurt anyone?), or if a wolf distracted it to pull it away from the sheep fold... and in fact it doesn't matter. Just like our specific sins don't disqualify us from receiving the grace and love of God. In the parable the shepherd (symbolic of Jesus) leaves the majority to search out ONE sheep (symbolic of us, the sinners, those who back-slide and fall away from the Lord..).
When I was stuck in sin, I imagined that God was running from me. That all the words spoken over me were now null and void. I imagined that God was sitting at a table with His big leather book in heaven asking for someone to bring Him white-out. I imagined that He was diligently erasing every good thing that He had planned for me. But .... in reality... He was running to me. He was pulling out all the stops, sending sign after sign, person after person to pour into me. He was rerouting the path ahead of me to ensure I reached the destination that He had planned for me. He was lifting up His robe and running to find me, desperate to pull me back into His arms, around His people and on His path.
So today, my message for you is... God isn't afraid to get "dirty" chasing after you and you aren't going to burn the church down. In fact, God will do just about anything to reach your heart because He knows the duration of eternity, and He is desperate to find you so that you can spend eternity surrounded by His relentless Love
Until Next Time, Crystal