”…’Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:6b-7)
I have learned a lot during my 28 years of life. A lot of good things. A lot of fruitful things–many unfruitful things as well. Things I wish I could unlearn. Up until about a couple years ago, much, if not most, of what I had learned was essentially book-knowledge–theory. Things I had heard others say, teach, or what I had read in books. Only a few topics could I really say I had learned experiential. Even things about God.
Now when someone knows something by experience rather than theory, they have much more authority on that topic or concept. Authority to teach, express, share with others for edification or forewarning. There’s something about the way they share it that carries more depth. And even if it’s not teaching or sharing about it, our own personal edification seems much more adequate. For example, if you only see 2+2=4 on paper, you only know the equation in theory. But if, by experience in reality, you see that when you have 2 donuts on your plate, then add 2 more, you now have 4 donuts, you’ll realize the fuller meaning of that equation (that you should maybe not eat so many donuts, for example). This is true, especially, with spiritual things.
The Relentless Love of God
We as Christians hear a lot about God’s love. About how Jesus loves us so much, that He died the death of a sinner and a thief on that horrific cross. But how much of it really strikes our hearts? How much do we really believe His love? Maybe one reason it doesn’t is because we misunderstand what God loving us means.
I’ve enjoyed a lot of C. S. Lewis books lately. He had a real grasp on spiritual matters and was able to communicate those matters beautifully. One thing that struck me was his take on Free Will. Without the “power of causation”, as he calls it (the power we have as humans to set off chains of events and consequences, inside or outside the will of God Himself), love isn’t really love. Without the ability to choose life or death, love or hate, God or Self, we are only mindless (and heartless) meat puppets–or just characters in a really long novel. So, God loves us so much, he gave us the power to reject Him!
I find it fascinating that even after Satan and his angels (that are now demons) decided to rebel against God and make Him their enemy, God didn’t just speak them out of existense. Why? I think, because God’s love is that powerful, that He really loves His enemies, like He commanded us to. (God will have His day of judgement against all Hell’s wicked angels and the Accuser of the Brethren himself, don’t take that last sentence the wrong way.)
I had a problem with a God that would allow the things that happened to me to happen. Was I not seeking Him with all I had? Did I not have the best of intentions? Why did He cause all this, and to what end? The thing is, He didn’t cause it. Sure, He allowed it. But I was warned within my heart many times before it all happened.
This may all sound very theological, but it isn’t. It’s a powerful truth once you grasp it. Especially in light of God’s “eternal purpose” that Paul mentions in Ephesians 3:11. But there’s not enough room or time here to dive into that.
A little over a year ago, I was homeless, strung out on heroin and meth, and surrounded by people that only wanted to harm me. I had fallen…hard. I had gone from loving Jesus with a loving group of genuine friends, a supportive, loving family that was very proud of me, a published Christian writer (a small publication), a respected member of my community, and an honest guy to a desperate, hopeless, street junkie. I was that guy sleeping under a bridge. I was that guy you see at the red light that you don’t want to make eye contact with because then you’ll have to give me some change or tell him, “No, I don’t have any change, man. Sorry.” I was the guy that people said, “What a waste. He had so much potential.”
But thanks be to God for His power and unique love! Though I had rejected Him and sought the created things rather than the Creator, He not once stopped loving me. I was still an heir with Christ, a child of the living God. He allowed me to pursue my own self-interests, even blessed me in some endeavors.
All that to say this: The love of God is relentless. He will pursue you to your dying breath. All He wants is the one lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son. If there was no one else on earth that followed him besides you, He would keep the earth spinning and the sun rising each morning just for you. Or, on the other side of the coin, if all 7 billion people were His, yet you were not, He would not be satisfied until you were His too.
There was a time I had a theoretial knowledge of His love and pursuit. There was even a time I seriously doubted His love and committment to me, to us all. But I can say with absolute certainty and conviction, that He was with me and nearer to me that day I cried out to Him on the streets of South Fort Worth than He ever was before. He came through for me.
I don’t normally evangelize, but if you do not know this Christ, the Lamb of God, this Lion of Judah, you should. Or, if you are a Christian but you feel as if you’re too caught up in some sin or spiritual stagnation, know that there is nothing you can say, do (or fail to do), or feel that can seperate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
So, what did I learn about Jesus while high on drugs? That I had still not ventured too far from His pasture for Him to come find me. He truly is the Good Shepherd.
**At least one person has died from drug overdose or drug-related complications or accidents while you were reading this. A huge reason addicts can’t get help is because of the stigma placed on them by the media, Doctors, politicians, etc. Please, if you or someone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol, get help. Most states offer free 30-90 day rehabs.*