Dear Fellow Children of God,
I was reading an e-mail from Dale Meyer last week. Dale is president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and he told the story about a husband and wife who were driving in their car when the wife lamented that their marriage didn’t feel as close as it used to feel. “We used to sit right next to each other when we rode in the car,” she said. “Now look how far apart we sit.” The husband was quiet for a second and then said to the wife, “Well, I haven’t moved.”
Dale’s point is that we sometimes feel separated from God, but God has not moved away from us. You and I know, however, that we do move away from God. Sometimes we don’t think we have time for Him, for devotions, for prayers, for worship. Not having time for God we have moved away. Sometimes we may feel drawn to the riches and possessions of this world instead seeking of the treasures of heaven, treasures of faith and hope and love. Reaching for this life’s treasures we move away from God. Sometimes we may feel drawn to a behavior or a desire that we know is disobedient or not serving God. Whenever we choose these other directions for life we move away from God.
This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season. Lent is a season that reminds us of our separation from God. But, Lent also reminds us that when we were lost, God came searching for us.
The Gospel of Luke emphasizes God’s search for people who have gotten lost because of their wayward wanderings. Luke 15 tells about the shepherd who goes searching for the lost sheep. Jesus is that shepherd and we are the lost lamb. Luke 15 tells about the woman who cleans and cleans her house searching for a lost coin. Again, Jesus is the one who does the searching and we are the ones who are lost. Luke 15 also tells about the lost Son and the loving father who receives his son back home into forgiving arms. God is that loving Father.
But, perhaps the best statement about how God searches for us is found in Luke 19. After Jesus’ interaction with the outcast tax collector, Zacchaeus, Jesus told a group gathered at Zacchaeus’ house, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." God Himself searches out wayward sinners to restore them in forgiveness and love.
When I was seven years old I ran away, not from my heavenly father, but from my earthly father and mother. I had pushed my younger brother into a mud puddle and I was fearing the consequences of my actions, so I ran away. My uncle heard that I had run away and knew where I might be. He looked and found me and brought me back home, where I was received with love and forgiveness. You know, if I had known my parents would be forgiving, I might not have run away.
During Lent we remember that it is our sin that sent Jesus to the cross, but we also remember that in love God seeks us to forgive us and restore us in our relationship with Him as His beloved child.
So, this week as you receive the ashes of repentance on Ash Wednesday, remember, God knows our sin and He still loves us. In fact, in Jesus God comes searching for us. Doesn’t that make us want to move closer to Him on the front seat of the car of our life?
A Child of God, Thankful that God comes searching for me, and for you,
P.S. Here are some pictures from last weekend’s Confirmation Retreat at Victory Bible Camp. https://plus.google.com/photos/114993745799525883148/albums/5985575942218282129?banner=pwa
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.