"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 18, 2013
Many times we seem to have an easier time viewing God as our judge or displinarian, than seeing of Him as our loving Father. We seem to think of Him as someone who is waiting for us to mess up so that He can mete out punishment and judgement. Or else we think that He won't accept our imperfections and flaws, so we have to clean up our act and straighten out our lives before He will be willing to accept us and truly love us.
There's also the misconception that God wouldn't want to hear from us; especially if we haven't talked to Him in a while. We feel guilty for running to God for help or consolation or healing or forgiveness if we've not prayed in a while. We feel like a heel for running to Him when we've ignored Him for so long and have put other things before Him.
But God is our Father and wants us to run to Him, regardless of the situation or how long it's been since we've gone to Him for help or talked to Him. When we're hurt, He wants to hold us; when we're sick, He wants to heal us; when we broken-hearted, He wants to mend us. We are His children and He cares about every little thing that concerns us. God just loves us that much!
When I was five years old, Mama had specifically told me not to play with Daddy's pocket knife. I knew that I was not allowed to play with it or I would get a spanking; that had been made very clear to me. Mama wasn't making that rule to be mean, but because she didn't want me to get hurt.
My parents were in the process of building onto the back of our house at that time. One day my cousin, who lived up the dirt road from us, came down to play with me. Kevin, who was a little younger than me, had snuck his dad's pocket knife out of the house and brought it down to show me. He had watched his dad and other men throw their knives and make them stick upright in the dirt. Kevin showed me how to do it, and for whatever reason, we decided this would be a fun game to play. So I went inside and snuck Daddy's pocket knife off the bedroom dresser. I'm not sure how long we had been playing this particular game, when I had an accident.
This happened forty-three years ago, so I'm not sure of the particulars or exactly how it happened, but instead of going into the dirt when I threw it, the knife went into my thigh; then likely fell out onto the ground.
Kevin, being the loyal friend that he was, knew that potential trouble was headed our way, so he took off running for home as fast as his legs would take him; leaving me to face the consequences alone.
I'm not sure if Mama heard me crying or if one of my sisters saw my leg bleeding and told her or exactly how she found out about the accident. I remember her running around the side of the house, wanting to look at my leg to see how bad the cut was.
But I knew that I had been told not to play with the knife, so I was more worried about getting a spanking than the cut on my leg. I hated getting into trouble and having Mama and Daddy upset with me. I remember Mama saying, "Just come here and let me look at your leg and see how bad the cut is." But I took off running across the yard to get away from her saying, "No! You're going to spank me!" Granted, I deserved a spanking for my disobedience! Mama kept saying, "I promise I'm not going to spank you; just come here and let me look at your leg."
I finally let her look at my leg and she cleaned up the blood and bandaged the cut.
To this day, I still have a small white scar on my thigh from my one and only attempt at pocket knife throwing. But what I remember most about the incident isn't the pain or how it hurt; I remember the love and mercy that Mama showed me. I didn't get what I deserved that day. Instead I got a hug and kiss and my leg bandaged by a loving mama. She was more concerned about my pain than my disobedience.
This example reminds me of how our Heavenly Father reacts when we are hurting and need Him. When we disobey God and do things that He tells us not to do, we often don't want to run to Him for help because we're afraid we'll get what we deserve. But God is saying, "Just come and let me love your hurts away. I promise I'm not going to discipline you (as you may well deserve); I just want to hold you and mend your brokenness." He wants to love and comfort and help us, like a parent does for their hurting child.
We may carry scars from the hurts or sins of our past, but they can be reminders, not of our stupidity or disobedience, but of the undeserved grace and mercy that God bestowed upon us.
I have quoted this verse several times in other devotionals, but it is one of my favorite scriptures: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Another version reads, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
I love that scripture and remind myself of it often. No matter how many times I mess up or fail or fall down or make mistakes or am disobedient or get hurt; God's compassion and love is steadfast and never stops. His mercies are unlimited and never run out. Every morning when I wake up, God has a fresh supply of mercy and compassion available to me. That same promise is for each of us each day. God is faithful!
We don't have kids, so we have to use our imagination and the word of our family when it comes to how parents feel about their kids. I can't imagine a good father refusing to forgive a child who feels bad about something they've done. He might still have to punish his child, but never out of anger. And it must be almost impossible to punish a child who is hurt by his disobedience. God is commonly described as our Heavenly Father. He is the perfect Father, and would never punish us in anger when we come to him with regret and longing to be at His side again.
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1 stick butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
Mix all ingredients together. Bake in 9 inch pan at 350 for 15 minutes. Double recipe for regular 9x13 pan. Ovens may vary baking time; don't overbake. Black walnuts are very good in this recipe.
My nephew's wife was working with her two kids, ages 6 and 7, on reading books. They are in an Accelerated Reading Program. They take comprehension tests on books they read and earn points; the points are a good indicator on how your child is doing with literacy. A few nights ago in their home stacks of books were everywhere. Winston had been reading all evening. Lillian "read" a stack and declared that she "read them in her head". She told Winston, "Like when mommy reads the Bible, she doesn't say a word at all! I read my books in my head like that." Mommy decided that Lillian was going to have to read the books out loud to her -- just to make sure!
Our relationship with God is not about performance or perfection, it's all about placement...
being IN Christ. - Luke Lang (Jon's cousin)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon