I am a native of my community. I was born and raised in the same local place. Then so moved away and spent a little more than a decade out of state before finding my way back home. That also describes my relationship with God and church. I grew up in church, from the time I was two until I hit my teenage years. Then I moved away from God and church for about a decade, until I made my way back to first church and then God.
There’s a song that we sing here at Ignite, Reckless Love by Cory Adbury and Bethel music. It says
“O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
O, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, you give yourself away”
Everytime we sing it I know that there’s other people who feel that applies to everyone but them. I relate because that’s that’s how I felt so many times. GOD CAN NEVER LOVE ME. HE CAN NEVER USE ME. He might be able to save me, but that’s probably better left until later and I would start listing my labels from the past. How I saw myself. How others saw me. What I had done or not done and what had been done to me.
I am downright viciously mean.
I am promiscuous.
I am a teen parent.
I am divorced.
I am homeless.
I am the child of a sexual offender.
I am a rape survivor.
I am the one that walked away from God.
I am an alcoholic.
I am a drug addict.
I am a bad wife.
I am a terrible parent.
I am not important.
I am unequally yoked.
I am an orphan.
I am an outsider.
I am not good enough.
I am unqualified.
I am not smart enough.
I am not talented enough.
I am alone.
I am ….fill in whatever keeps you from receiving God’s love, grace and forgiveness.
Those are just a few of the things that kept me bound. Things that if I felt too convicted I would toss up to God as a reason He couldn’t cover me. Or things that would play over and over in my mind if I started feeling that maybe God could love me.
God’s reckless love can reach you, regardless of your history or your current circumstances. There is no mountain too high no obstacle to big. God puts up roadblocks trying to steer us to Him. He spends decades trying to get us to do things His way. He uses subtle things that whisper His loving care, even when we have walked away. He places people in our life to be His hands and feet to love us and support us so we can find our way to Him.
It hasn’t been an easy road, but it has been every bit worth it. I still have areas in my life God is working, but that’s okay. I have been completely clean from drugs for over 17 years. God restored my marriage, and we will celebrate our 20th anniversary next year. My children dont rember being homeless, but even now as adults they know where home is. I have a job and career where I enjoy helping people who are walking through difficult times. I have seen reconciliation and restoration in my family in all five generations that were living.
This year my two daughters and I got a tattoo with the simple words “I am” The only one who can complete that sentence for any of us, is our creator, the great I AM. And for most of us, that sentence will be rewritten many times as God refines us. And it is a sentence that can already be filled with so many truths from God’s Word.
The truth is, none of us deserve what Christ did one the cross for us. Not Mother Teresa, not the Pope, not Billy Graham. Not me and not you. We can not earn His love, His forgiveness, or His grace. But it is given as a free gift for us to take, receive, and put to use.
God offers the free gift of eternal life. You only need receive His forgiveness, and allow His grace to be used to transform your life. It may not happen overnight, but if you learn that His ways are for your benefit you will end up with a testimony like mine, which is “I am forgiven, I am loved and I am blessed.”