Matthew 18:12-14 is a scripture that has brought me great comfort when I have wandered away from my walk with God. When I am beating myself up or wondering if God is upset with me for wandering away I will go to this scripture to remind myself of what Jesus said about this type of issue. Jesus gives the illustration of a man having 100 sheep but one of them wandered off from the pack. He would leave the 99 other sheep to go find the 1. And when He did find it He would be filled with more joy than of having the 99 others. Can you imagine the joy that must be, just to find the one sheep that had wandered off and gotten lost? I mean, if He was happier than he was with still having 99 other sheep, that is a lot of joy to find just that ONE sheep! And that is the way that God feels when we have wandered off and come back to him.
I feel like I am the only person on earth that struggles with wandering off of the path that God has paved for them. I know that we are all imperfect and make mistakes but I tend to find myself wandering down the same old dead end roadways a lot. Sometimes I will notice quickly that I have wandered off, and other times I wander so far away that I get lost and it takes me a while to find my way back. But rather I get back on the right path quick or slow, I always feel really bad for wandering off. I feel like I am the biggest disappointment to God. I walk back to God with my head hung down, my tail between my legs, and riddled with guilt and shame.
Anytime that we wander off the path that is meant for us to walk with God he does call out to us to come back onto the right path. He calls for us to come back close to him. And no matter how many times we ignore him, no matter how long we travel that wrong path, no matter how far away we have wandered, He will be right there waiting for us with open arms. Just as the man is filled with joy and the prodigal son’s father (Luke 15:11-32) welcomed his lost son back with open arms and overwhelming love and joy, God reacts the same towards us. He does no want any of us to perish or to have less of a life than the life that He intends for us to have. He wants us to have the abundant life that Jesus gave his life for us to be able to have. He is loving and full of mercy and forgiveness all the time. But He will not make us come back to Him.
When I go through this experience I have to go to scripture to remind myself about the God that I serve. That while He does not like me wandering off the right path, He will never abandon me or reject me when I come to my senses and come back to the right path. He does not want us to perish because of our human imperfections and wrong choices that we make. And when we realize that we have made a wrong turn and are heading down the wrong path He will be waiting with open arms when we come back to the right path.