To me; it meant the thankfulness I felt when I was at my worst point in my choices, running my own life, living the great life full of parties and friends and laughing and drunkenness and all the fun that goes with that, only to find my neglected family in utter ruin...and finding myself in a place where all I could see is the hopelessness in a handful of pills that in utter despair might end the life that I knew... Yet, God, had a much better plan for me and my family. He did end that life that I knew, He allowed it to die with my repentance, left it in the past and he put me in His arms, as well as the arms of a body of believers to walk my new life out with, redirected me, taught me, comforted me, disciplined me and turned my hopelessness into LIFE, real life. Full of hope and courage, strength, and faith in something bigger than I could have ever asked for.
A reminder to me, of the time that God came after me, "the one" a sheep who had wandered off, and left the ninety-nine. The time that secured my loyalty to "The One" who held all the answers. The One that took the time, the One that holds the entire universe in the palm of His hand, who sacrificed, all....who dropped everything, to come after "the one" who was running away.
But...I also know that when God speaks...it's not just "about me".
I say that with a huge smile, knowing that God works in amazing and a far larger scale then my little "about me" perspective.
God is just that good...
So, I'm anticipating the seeds that are planted in the congregation when God prompted me to ask the question, "who has ever been the one of ninety-nine that God came after"? Although many hands went up... as anticipated and prompted...some did not.
Did that mean that they were afraid to raise their hand, they weren't paying attention, they didn't want to participate in the question...or they never experienced being "the one" yet? Was that possible....that someone out there was waiting for God to recklessly come after them, knowing they needed to know that God would drop everything to chase them down. So I prompted..."if you've not experienced being the one out of the ninety-nine, I hope you experience that opportunity soon.
And soon it was...and how soon I was able to witness God answer.
It was my rotation to teach the 10-14 year old's and I was excited for the opportunity to speak into their lives. I love to encourage people, I love to give hope and I love when people understand that their lives make a difference! Especially children. Too many times, we adults shove kids to the side, we make them feel like they are just dumb kids and that we as wise adults have all the answers. They will simply have to wait their turn...until they mature and experience more of life to be teachers....but I don't agree with that statement...I look for God to speak in all lives, I ask for wise counsel, input, I love participation, I rarely love to teach...although I love to study.
So together we studied, 2 Peter Chapter 2, verses 1-15. After we read scripture, in my studies, I asked each wise counsel, what God spoke to them about, or what stood out to them or what part jumped off the page to them....each wise counsel, ranging from ages 10-15 each shared their God Moment with me...and one wise member said, 4 words spoke to me, "even after I'm gone"....
I stopped in my tracks...I knew God spoke and I couldn't wait to find out what. I worked at prompting my young man at what those 4 words meant to him... I felt in my spirit I knew what it meant, but I didn't know for sure. He wouldn't budge. So I said to my young man...."God is speaking directly to you...you know that right? He smiled and his eyes told me for certain that he knew it was for him. I encouraged him to share with me when God responded to his prayer, what those 4 words meant to him. He promised he would.
After class, he walked up to me and he said, Angie...I know why those 4 words mattered to me. I encouraged him to tell me. He proceeded to tell me that his grandpa passed away a couple years ago and he really misses him. I hugged him, and I shared with him, I lost my grandpa a year ago also and that my grandpa was my hero so I understood how much it hurt. With tears in his eyes, he shook his head "yes".
I reminded him that God dropped everything, to speak with him, to remind him that God understood too...that God wanted him to see specifically that "even after I'm gone" I'll always be with you...
I love that my young man was able to witness God come after him, "the one" out of the ninety-nine.
I'm reminded of Matthew 18;
The Parable of the Wandering Sheep10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.  [a]
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
I am thankful that I get to witness God's love for others...on a daily basis.