Saturday, October 8, 2011

Please Come Home

"But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God."
Nehemiah 9:31

Throughout the Old Testament we see Israel turning their back on God, but He never turned His back on them. When they repented and returned to Him, He opened His arms wide to receive them. This happened repeatedly, and always God kept His promise to His people. God doesn't hold grudges. He is gracious, giving us what we don't deserve -- His love and forgiveness. He is merciful, not giving us what we do deserve -- punishment for our disobedience. 

Max Lucado tells a story about a young girl from Brazil who wanted to see the world. It's a beautiful illustration of our Heavenly Father's mercy, grace and love.

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 drugstore 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 small black-and-white photos, she boarded the next bus to the city.

Maria knew Christina 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 in bars, hotels, and nightclubs, any place with a bad reputation. 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 both 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 Christina 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. (Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Multnomah Press, 1986, pp. 158-9)

No matter how far you may have strayed from God, no matter what you have done, it doesn't matter. God hasn't abandoned you. He loves you and He wants you to come home.

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