Ah, another Sunday at Theater Church.
Another Sunday for God to hit me. And it felt awesome.
Several times throughout the service, mention came up of the story in the Bible from Luke 15:4-7 (also Matthew 18:12-14) that says a shepherd will leave 99 sheep in a pasture to go find his one sheep that wandered off. And from the first time it was mentioned, my mind instantly went back to the night of my baptism and how it felt to realize that God was chasing me down there in that Nashville church.
I remember laying in Callie's bed that night thinking about everything that had happened. As hard as I tried, I couldn't understand why God put so much effort into getting me to my breaking point, into pushing right to the edge where I was forced to come face-to-face with the fact that I needed to go back home to Him.
I mean, really? I had spent the vast majority of my life hating God. And I mean really HATING Him. He could've just let me go. After all, He's got so many followers who devoted their entire lives to His glory. He didn't really need me - bitter, angry, broken, dirty, a-hundred-years-older-than-I-look me. He could've spent His time lavishing blessings on the people who had recognized His goodness from the start, on the people who didn't turn on Him the second things got too hard for them to handle. He could've so easily just let me keep falling, right? Wouldn't that have been the easier thing to do?!
Ha. No. That's the thing about God. He's the kind of God that says "There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:7) He likes going after the "lost souls." He likes redeeming the lives that the world can't be bothered with helping. He likes taking people who had given up on Him and showing them just how badly they need a Savior.
I know that much because that's what He did with me. Still tentative about diving fully back into the "whole being a Christian thing", He pulled off something completely ridiculous by human standards to get rid of the apprehension. He got my mother, a single mom and a teacher, to afford to buy me a plane ticket to Nashville to go visit some of my Christian role models. He stopped an infection on my arm from spreading the day before my plane left. He got Callie and Phoebe to allow me to go to Sanctuary that night. He led me to the side of the stage where Brennan and Joe were. He gave me the courage to be vulnerable and tell them and the other two guys why I needed prayer. He told me to go get baptized and gave me the strength to get up from my seat when I had no idea what was going on. He led me back to the stage at the exact second that Brennan was walking in front of it, so I would have a familiar face to ask if I could get baptized. I could go on and on.
If I had told my mom it was too much money to send me to Nashville for something fun, if the antibiotic hadn't worked that quickly on my arm, if Callie and Phoebe had said no, if I had changed my mind, so many things could have stood in the way of me and my baptism, things that would make any normal person say, "Well, it just didn't work out." But no, He lined everything up perfectly so that I could experience the best night of my entire life.
He chased me down.
That night, and His pursuit of me that night, changed the course of the rest of this year. Today's service was the perfect reminder of why I have no choice but to be completely and utterly grateful for His neverending pursuit of the hearts of every single one of His children, even the ones that the world deems worthless.
I was that 100th sheep. And it's the knowledge of His pursuit of me and my heart and all the effects that that chase has had and continues to have on my life that gives me comfort when I start to worry about my mom's and my sisters' eternities. They are now that 100th sheep, just like I was a short time ago. He came after me, and He'll go after them, too. There's no time limit for His work. He rejoices when His lost sheep come back home. He sees the worth in going after "the least of these" when no one else does. That's why He is God and we are not.