One of the things I love to be teaching my girls is that I love them because God made them and He gave them to me. And because of that, there is nothing they can do to change my love for them. No matter what they do, they cannot change those two facts. My love for them is not based in what they do, but in who they are and Whose they are.
We have certainly had plenty of opportunity to show this to our daughter Anna lately. She has been going through some very hard stuff. There have been good days, bad days, and very bad days. Almost two weeks ago, she had a really bad day that ended up with her in the hospital again. Yesterday she came home. We are so glad to have her back. No matter how difficult her struggles have been or will get, no matter how many times she falls down under the weight of her problems, her mom and I will be there to help pick her back up, love her, encourage her, and cheer her on.
As we were celebrating her return last night I started thinking about the spiritual truth that this series of events illustrates.
All of us at times wanders, gets lost, falls, gets pulled or carried away. Maybe by our own hand, maybe by the hands others, or maybe by events that unfold on us which we cannot foresee or control. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever the reason, we inevitably find ourselves fallen down, knocked over, dirty, or bloody. And we hear a voice in our head accusing us:
- How could you have made the same mistake again?
- If you really believed in God you wouldn’t be so weak.
- You’re not good enough.
- How could God love you?
- You’ve wondered too far, too often.
- You’re too dirty.
- You’re too broken.
Buffeted by such accusations we begin to question ourselves, “Have I not gone too far? Haven’t I sunk too low? I am so dirty, how can I possibly ever be clean again? Am I not too broken to be taken back?”
To these questions God responds “No! I will always welcome you home!” God’s response when we fall is to help us back to our feet and encourage us to keep going.
How can we possibly be welcomed back? Why would God ever be willing to love us, help us, and heal us again and again and again? Listen to His answer in Isaiah 44:21-22 (NIV),
Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.
Christian, God has redeemed you! To redeem means to buy back or free from captivity. When God says He has redeemed us, He is saying that whatever debt we owed Him, whatever the cost was to make us clean again, whatever the cost may be to make us whole again, no matter how great, has been paid in full.
How? By Christ! Paul explains in Romans 8:32-33 (NLT), Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one–for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Because of Jesus, we have been granted right standing before God, we have been redeemed! Because we’ve been redeemed we will always be welcomed back. Like the Father in the parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15:11-32, our heavenly Father is out looking for us. Not to yell, lecture, punish, or condemn us, but to welcome us back; and that with ring, robe, sandals, and celebration (Luke 15:22-23)!
You don’t have to be afraid of failure. You don’t have to be afraid of losing God’s love or forgiveness. You don’t have to worry about having been so far from home. You have been redeemed. God’s love for you is not based in your performance, or in what others think of you or don’t think of you. It is based in Christ, in who He is and what He did. You cannot change those facts. Therefore, Christian, be you ever so weak, tired, lost, dirty, or broken, you will always be God’s beloved, you will always have His forgiveness, you will always have His Spirit in you cleaning your heart and mending your soul. Always.