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Tears

But while he was still a long way off his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  Luke 15:20

I know the text doesn’t say it but I can only imagine the tears flowing from the father and mother in the story of the prodigal son.  In fact, the King James version says “he fell on his son’s neck” in a dramatic display of joy and love.  Awhile ago, my family brought me to tears of joy with a surprise visit from my daughter, whom I hadn’t seen in months.  I heard the front door open and thinking it was my older daughter I made my way toward the front of the house to tell her hello.  When I realized it was my younger daughter I was overcome with tears and unable to speak.  I stood there sobbing in her arms.

It may seem strange to be thankful to God for tears but without them our world would be so vanilla.  I’ve laughed until I have cried with friends and family.  I’ve cried out to God, thankful for His grace and salvation.  I’ve wept at the birth of my daughters.  And yes, I’ve cried those tears of sorrow, of loss, of anger, of desperation.

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126:5

So often we must weep, live in hard times before we can experience the full glory and blessing of God.  It’s why James tells us we should consider it joy to experience trials.  Because those trials produce good fruit in us.  And that fruit becomes something for us to share.

I have a friend whose 90 year old mother confesses to not remembering the last time, if ever, that she has cried.  What that means is she hasn’t participated fully in the gifts of life.  With each winter season in our lives we are so often rewarded with the spring, a time to bring  us great joys.  I want to go from this life knowing I have cried many tears from laughter, thankfulness, joyous surprise, beautiful surroundings and more.  I heard a Christian teacher say, “If you want the joy of Sunday’s resurrection you must first have the tears of Friday’s crucifixion.”

I’m so very grateful to God for giving us the outward ability to show our emotions.  To show those we love how much we love them, even after they are gone.  I’m looking forward to the day I can cry tears of joy when I see Jesus’ face watching for me from a long way off.  I know that when I get close enough, I will fall into His arms weeping, filled with joy.

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He Pursues Us

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shouldersand goes home.  Luke 15:3-5

I’ve always been the kind of person that makes sure no one is left behind or left out.  This served me well as a Girl Scout leader.  I was always counting heads making sure none of my little sheep got lost.  I can count two times in my 13 years as a leader of two troops where someone was lost.  One was an adult so I wasn’t quite as concerned about that.  But the other was a child, who was being supervised by another adult while at an amusement park.  When all our groups gathered for a “touching base” the adult mentioned he hadn’t seen her in a bit.  The casualness of his report shocked me.  I went immediately into “Lost Sheep” mode – sending out the troops to start searching and contacting the park security team.  Thankfully the young lady was found within a short period of time.  But my trust in the adult was gone.

As a Christian we should take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus will never take our missing status casually.  I praise God today that he pursues us even when we don’t realize we are lost.  

In past praises I’ve mentioned I love the story of Jesus and the woman at the well.  She didn’t realize she was lost.  She just knew her life was miserable.  He sought her out and changed her life forever.  A sheep brought into the fold.  This weekend I had the pleasure of learning about another woman at the well that was pursued by God – Hagar.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”  Genesis 16: 7-8

Hagar, as a refresher, was Sarai’s slave.  Sarai encouraged her husband Abram to sleep with Hagar in order to have offspring.  But once Hagar became pregnant, Sarai treated her slave terribly.  Hagar fled to escape further persecution.  And the “Angel of the Lord” – Jesus – sought her out.

What I learned about this small scene in Genesis made the story all the more comforting.  First, this is the first instance in the Bible that the “Angel of the Lord” makes His appearance.  Second, this is the only time God addresses a slave and calls her by name.  On top of that He makes what can only be called a promise, or a covenant, with someone other than the Israelites.  And it’s this slave who names God.

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

Just think of it.  This lowly slave.  Someone not worthy of anything in man’s eyes being sought after and called by God.  Being allowed to speak with God and helping us know who He is.  If God pursues her, how can He not pursue me?

That little Girl Scout that got separated from her group? She didn’t think she was lost. She was distracted by the bells and whistles of the amusement park. Left on her own long enough she would’ve certainly gotten emotional. Friends, so many of us lose our way or become slaves to something or someone.  And sometimes we run away from everything to try and be free. In all these circumstances we’ve moved from His safe folds to the dangerous pitfalls of the world. But He will pursue you.  You just need to stop and rest at the well for a minute and listen to His voice beckoning you home.