I love all who love me. Those who search for me will surely find me.
It’s 2am and the phone rings; not recognizing the number I hit ignore and tried to go back to sleep. A minute later it rings again, I am so tired I think, if it rings a third time, it is really for me.” Hoping with each passing second there isn’t a third call sure enough it rings again. As I pick up the phone, I heard a very worried voice on the line. “Sarah, I don’t know what to do, what should I do?”
I calmly said, “who is this and what is going on?” The student went on to share how they had been partying, one of them had entirely too much to drink and was passed out. The could not get them to wake up. Most, too out of it they didn’t know what to do. The kid who called me had not been to youth group for more than a year. They continued, “I didn’t know who else to call.” I have to say there are no greater words to compliment a youth leader than those! In a sense, it gives a glimpse to what the Lord must feel when we hit bottom and come to Him.
For many of us, we might think this to be a perfect “I told you so,” or a “what were you thinking” moment. Out of fear, we can lack compassion or react in disappointment. As this young person lay in the hospital getting their stomach pumped, the dr. working hard to keep them alive, God brought me to this place of overwhelming mercy and grace. The kids on the table, was actively involved in youth group activities, outings and events. It was a kid I might not have expected to be in this situations (although none of us are above bad choices)!
As I was praying for this student, God pressed Ps. 23 on my heart. Verse 4 say’s, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” I couldn’t help but think how amazing these words of comfort are. In the darkness, in the moment of a bad choice the Lord is still with us. He does not leave us. He does not take His eyes off of us, the Bible says, “He upholds us with His righteous right hand. Amazing!
The student was supposed to join our youth group on a trip to a Christian conference coming up. I had left the island for a few days to go speak at an event on the main land. When I returned, I got news that this student had pulled out of the trip. The news weighed so heavy on my heart; I felt like this student had forgotten that God was still with them. That despite what has happened, the Lord still desired a relationship with them. How often do we forget that grace is an unearned, undeserved, freely given gift? We get into that thought process of having to do good to be excepted. We forget that it is already done. We are already “excepted in the Beloved.”
I think of the book of Hosea and the great picture of the restoration God desires to do when we have messed up. So often when we blow it, we feel ashamed and we don’t think that we can come to Christ. Who hasn’t been in that place? In that shame the first thing the enemy says is, “You’re no longer His child, don’t pray, cause He is not listening.” That’s a lie, Satan is always trying to lie and separate you from fellowship with God. God wants you to seek Him, especially when you’re not walking with Him. Seek Him immediately.
In Hosea, God used Gomer (Hosea’s wife), to show us how far His people deviated from the truth. They once walked with God and now they deceived themselves, thinking they could do it on their own apart from God. So often we become self-sufficient instead of Christ dependent.
God told Hosea that he was to take back his harlot wife to himself and restore her. God was using this as a lesson for you and me. No matter what we have done, how bad the sin, or how horrible the consequences are; He did not, does not and will not reject you or me for them. God takes you just as are; He cleanses you, renews you and restores you. God does not remind us of our sins anymore; why should we? If God could forgive everything I have done, then I too need to forgive those who have hurt me.
God’s promise of restoration is in Hosea 2:14-16 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, I will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. And it shall be, in that day, Says the Lord, That you will call me my Husband; you will no longer call Me master.”
After much prayer, I called this student up and shared with them that even though they messed up they were still welcomed and loved. I said, I didn’t want them to feel guilty or bad over what happened, or feel like they couldn’t come around anymore. I shared that God loves us on our best day and worst day and only the enemy reminds us of what we have done and makes us feel as if we can’t come to God. We can always come to Him. I let this student know that we didn’t wanting to force them to come, but if they wanted to, they were still welcome.
The next day this student called me back and tearfully shared that this was exactly how they had felt. That they still really wanted to come, but thought they couldn’t. They felt so ashamed. After hanging up the phone all I could do was cry. The restoring love of God is so good! It is always available to all who come to Him. His arms are opened wide to each of us. We need to understand that in the Love and Mercy God has given us, there are going to be times of trial. We are going to go through the valleys, but even through the valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.
You might be reading this today and you yourself have been going here or there to find fulfillment, but have come up empty. God is calling you to wake up and to run back to His open arms! He loves you and His love will not reject you.