“I was such an awful person, I knew God couldn’t love me. So I chose Satan as my higher power,” was the way one young woman expressed herself to me. She went on to relay a history of chemical dependency and sexual promiscuity.
The idea that God could care about her was a strange and alien thought. Why should God care when her parents didn’t? Why would God care when none of her relatives did? How was it possible that God could care when even those she had thought of as friends, had left her?
Accepting God’s love, with all of God’s forgiveness and grace, does not come easily when we are ashamed of our actions. We wonder how the God, who is good, can care about the “me” who has done wrong. When our lives are in shatters through our own mistakes it is difficult to believe that we matter to God.
Yet the assurance of God’s caring is found throughout the scriptures; “Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will care for me.” (Psalm 27:10) “Far as east is from west, so far has God put our offenses away from us.” (Psalm 103:12) One day Jesus told a story about a lost sheep. One so precious to the shepherd that all the others were left behind to go search for that missing sheep. The way that Jesus tells the story, he talks of the joy of the shepherd in finding the missing one. Then he tells us, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
God’s great desire is that all are embraced in God’s love. God wants us to know that each of us, no matter where we have been, however hard our lives or how far we’ve run away from God . . . that each of us are loved. Each one of us is precious in the eyes of God. We are loved just as we are in this moment today. God may lead us to healthier places, better relationships, some soul-searching and positive changes in our life. But for today, the message of scripture is that we are loved. God loves us enough for a Savior Shepherd to come searching for us, to bring us home . . nestled in the love of God.