The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey

'For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.' Luke 19 v 10

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. Think of a child told not to play in a certain area of a garden or play park. They might not be told why not, but simply given the instruction, "Don't!" They don't understand why they are being restricted and see their parent as merely limiting their activities for some unknown reason: some meaningless, adult restriction meant to spoil their fun and their day. And, human nature being what it is, from then on, they more interested in playing in that forbidden region of the garden than any of the permitted areas. That's what adults are like too, I regret to say. The child won't see the hidden danger that the parent sees: the hidden gully, the lair of the poisonous snake or the cliff just out of sight. Nor will the child understand that behind the parent's don't is a parent's heart saying, "I love you and I will do anything to protect and save you, even if it means giving my life!" God says to us, "Don't steal, don't lie, don't use My name wrongly, don't live immoral lives..." and we see Him as the restrictive, joy-stealing God, who doesn't understand our desires, our needs, our wants and yet, could it be that He is our loving parent who is really saying, "I love you more than you will ever know and I would die for you to save you and protect you!"? It's just that we don't hear that part. We're so busy doing our own thing and after all, doesn't He understand that that is the only part of the garden we want to play in? So then, like the child who disobeys the parent and falls into the gully, or is bitten by a snake and cries out, "Help! I'm lost! I'm hurting! I can't find the way out!", we get trapped in our sin and our cries are just the same: "Help, I'm lost! I'm trapped! I didn't mean to end up here!" The parent then throws all thought of their own safety to the wind and rushes to where the child is and lifts them up, holding them close to their breast and carries them to safety. They would rather face danger, injury, or death to protect their beloved child, even when that child has been blatantly disobedient and defiant. They love their child. That love is all that matters, now. So it is with our Heavenly Father. We have become entangled, wounded and trapped in something much worse than an earthly danger: sin has entrapped us! Sin has eternally, entrapped us. But see, our Father in heaven has set in motion a rescue plan: He has sent us His Son to save us from the sin we have fallen into. But this time, there is no other way to rescue us but by His Son giving His own life on the Cross in place of our lives. An innocent life for a guilty one. We will never fully understand this, but the Good Shepherd seeks out the lost sheep, lifts them up and carries them home on His shoulders, rejoicing as He goes! The child rescued from the gully is forgiven, but may still have the scars to remind them of their foolish and disobedient choices and, so it is with us. Though we have called out in our need for the Good Shepherd to seek us out and carry us home, we may have to bear some of the scars of our folly for a while. But oh, the Love we've discovered in our God! We only saw the God of the Don't, before, but now, we see something of the true heart of our loving Father, sending His Son, to seek and to save that which was lost! (Luke 19:10). What a God we have!

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found Was blind but now I see! (John Newton, slave trader)