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Today’s devotional thought...
Ezekiel 34:11-12, “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.”
Throughout the Bible God is seen as looking for something. He is in pursuit. He is searching the earth high and low. He is relentless in his quest. What does He look for? It could be you.
Max Lucado tells the story of Christine in his book, No Wonder They Call Him Savior. He writes, “Longing to leave her poor Brazilian neighborhood, Christina wanted to see the world. Discontent with a home having only a pallet on the floor, a washbasin, and a wood-burning stove, she dreamed of a better life in the city. One morning she slipped away breaking her mother’s heart.
“Knowing what life on the streets would be like for her young, attractive daughter, Maria hurriedly packed to go find her. On her way to the bus stop she entered a drug store to get one last thing. Pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all she could on pictures of herself. With her purse full of black-and-white photos, she boarded the next bus for Rio de Janeiro.
“Maria knew Christiana had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. When pride meets hunger, a human will do things that were before unthinkable. Knowing this, Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. She went to them all. And at each place she left her picture--taped on a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, fastened to a corner phone booth. And on the back of each photo she wrote a note. It wasn’t too long before the money and the pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home.
“The weary mother wept as the bus began its long journey back to her small village. It was a few weeks later that young Christiana descended the hotel stairs. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A thousand times over she had longed to trade these countless beds for her secure pallet. Yet the little village was, in too many ways, too far away.
“As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was this compelling invitation. “Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home.” She did.“ [(Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him Savior, pg. 158-159)]
At one point or another we are all like this girl who leaves the love of home thinking that the world can offer us something better. It never does as our Father rightfully knows. Instead it puts us in great peril. Instead it demoralizes us. Instead it strips us of our God given humanity. Can you imagine how that makes our Father feel?
God feels like a husband of a prostitute. She gets tired of the humdrum of home and leaves to be enslaved and used. The Husband does not abandon her despite her unfaithfulness. He seeks her out going to the slums and seedy world to buy her back from her pimp. Once He buys what is His own He brings her home and tries to teach her faithfulness. This is the story of Hosea.
God feels like a Father whose son comes to Him to ask for His inheritance. The Father has to sell some of His estate and pays His son what should not be His until the Father wills it to him at His death. The Father watches from the window as the son heads off with a skip in his step and adventure glinting in His eyes. The Father’s heart breaks. One day He is standing at the head of the road looking far off, and then He sees him. His son’s appearance is life to His dry bones. His son’s appearance is teary dreams coming true. He cannot restrain Himself. He looses all dignity and runs down the road. Desire overcomes His self-respect. His feet cannot propel Him fast enough to the bedraggled, filthy, smelly, poverty-stricken, slump-shouldered son. When He finally meets His son the son barely gets his rehearsed speech out. The Father does not hear. His son who was dead is alive! His son who was lost is found! He does not delay. Commands are given for the son's restoration and a celebration begins. (Luke 15:11-32)
God feels like a shepherd who loves His sheep. The Shepherd knows each one intimately. His care and concern for His sheep means He risks His life to protect the sheep from wolves, lions and bears. He spends all day watching over His sheep. He has them named and when He calls they come. He plays a flute at night near the entrance of the sheep pen and the sheep are lulled into sleep in utmost security. Then one day as the sheep graze He notices one is missing. A sense of panic sets in. There is a hundred different ways a sheep can die. The sheep is not wise or shrewd but blindly strikes out not even realizing its danger. This is the Shepherd’s sheep. Nothing can stop the Shepherd from leaving all the rest of the flock to find the one who has gone astray. He seeks the sheep out over hills, across streams, down dusty roads. When He finds the sheep His relief is palpable. He slings the sheep upon his shoulders and makes the long road home lighter than He’s been in days. (Luke 15:3-7)
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;” (Isaiah 53:6a) So our heavenly Shepherd pursues us; He seeks us out; He searches until He finds us; He waits at the mouth of the road day after day, month after month waiting for us to come home. This is the heart of our indefatigable, undeterred, undaunted Father who stops at nothing to extend His love to His rebellious children. This is how He feels about you. He will pursue you to the very ends of the earth to bring you back. Or, we can just go home and watch as He runs to meet us. Either way your God is in pursuit of you, putting reminders everywhere that He loves you and wants you back. Can you turn your back on such devotion, such love? I can't. God pursued me and when He found me in my pigsty of a life I did the sensible thing. I fell into His open arms.
Prayer: Father God, You are love. Your love pursues us wherever we go. Your love calls to us, longs for us, hopes for us, searches for us. Who are we to fight such love and determination. You have won us; You have found us. We are Yours. Remind us today to be found by You and fall into Your arms. Thank You for being the Hound of Heaven and the lover of our souls. In Jesus name, amen.