In the final episode of the classic horror story monster mash Penny Dreadful, there is a scene with two of the shows main characters, Ethan Chandler and Vanessa Ives. Vanessa has been hunted and haunted her whole life. She has given up on God and is about to give out and throw herself in with the villain who seems to have her cornered. She’s tired of running, tired of fighting. She’s let go of her faith and let go of God. She’s ready to join the other side.
Ethan walks up to her, looks her in the eyes and says, “You are not alone. You never were. I have stood at the very edge, I have looked into the abyss, had I taken one more step I would have fallen. But no matter how far I ran away from God, He was still waiting ahead.”
Penny Dreadful is many things, but a Christian show it is not. That line however, captures the essence of grace and illustrates the relentless pursuit God makes for His people. There is no sin, no fall, no failure that is too much for Jesus. There is no road we can travel that God cannot find us on. As the psalmist says,
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalms 139:7-12 (NIV)
I hope you never find yourself in such dark places. Places where you are utterly hopeless. Places where it seems that your sins have caught up with you and threaten your life. Places where you feel utterly abandoned. Places where despair so rules your mind that you long for death. But even if that is where you are, there is yet hope. Jesus lives. And He is not far. I have seen Him bring people back from the brink. I have seen Him intervene and bring His life-giving grace to people who were so lost that death was looked for as a welcomed guest. He found Jeffry Dahmer in prison. He can find you.
Jesus’ parable of the Father out on the road looking for his lost son, the son who wished Him dead, who took his money and his means, who wasted it and ended up starving and broken, but who never stopped being his son, yet who was never far from his father’s mind, whom he longed to welcome home, and to whom he ran to and kissed him when he did, is no fairytale. It is no fable. It is reality. It is who God is. Such is the breadth and depth of his grace.