The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. Lamentations 3:22 (NRS)
Reading about Rahab in the book of Joshua this morning, I am again amazed at God’s mercy. Rahab was a prostitute whose house was built into the wall of Jericho, that city famous for its walls that came tumbling down. Spies had been sent to reconnoiter the city prior to an attack by the Israelites. Of all the houses they could have visited, God led them to Rahab’s. She welcomed them and hid them from her own townspeople because she knew God was with the Israelites. In return she and all her family were spared and assimilated into the conquering Israelite nation. Not only that, but she eventually married a man from the tribe of Judah and became the great grandmother of beloved King David.
And then there were Abraham and Isaac (who both had a tendency to tell untruths in tight spots), prideful Joseph, cowardly Gideon, and fearful disciples. Peter denied his best Friend three times and came back to be a leader and founder of the Christian Church. God’s love and forgiveness transformed his flawed children when they turned to him.
One of the great Father-Love stories in the Bible is that of the Prodigal Son who brought pain, grief, humiliation, and loss to his family. When all the community (and especially his own brother) would ostracize him, his loving father has apparently been waiting for a sign of his return. When he finally sees him trudging down that familiar path, he doesn’t wait, bitterly expecting the boy to come groveling. Instead, he runs to welcome him home. The boy’s betrayal and repentance are understood by his father’s love with celebration for his return.
Again, we read about the shepherd who has a large flock of sheep and leaves them when he discovers that one is lost. He is willing to give his life for that one lost sheep, and he’s overjoyed when the lost is found. He’s so happy, he puts him on his shoulders and carries him all the way home. What profound love.
I suspect we’ve all been unfaithful or disobedient or thoughtless or rebellious at one time or another, and yet, while everyone else looks at our bad (sinful) behavior, God sees our hearts (I Sam. 16:7). He sees our desire to please and follow him even as our human nature pulls us in other directions. And he rescues us and gives us grace to repent and be changed. Talk about love…
Father, your love has been abounding. Cause us to accept all you have done for and in us through Jesus Christ and not look back. May our identity increasingly be in you and your glorious plan for us that you may be honored. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.