Tears spilled onto my lap as I sat alone at the airport terminal awaiting my flight. My spirit withered within. In a broken and dark season of life, I believed that God was disappointed and angry with me. The bitterness of my disgrace stung my heart and sowed the lie that I was unworthy of God’s love or protection. As if I’m the one who decides that! My wickedness was too much, I thought. Yet, God had a plan brewing that would ultimately change the course of my life forever.
Although I did not recognize the voice of God at the time, He clearly spoke to my heart. In the darkest moment of my life, God had neither forgotten nor forsaken me. Instead, He pursued me and pulled me close.
“For God has said, I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
I picked myself up and boarded the plane. A crisp fall day met me at my destination, unusually cold for south Florida. I wasn’t sure what the next season of life would look like, yet I was drawn to something spoken deep in my heart that day at the airport. As if in a trance, still broken, and in desperate need of God’s healing touch, I chose to follow His voice.
Several years later, I busied myself by organizing a bag of old photos and mementos. As I rummaged through pictures, cards, letters, and graduation programs, a small blue guitar pick fell onto my lap.
At that moment God took me back in my mind’s eye to a story I had long since forgotten, yet a story that I needed to remember. A story of love and pursuit.
It was my birthday; I was alone and far from home for the first time in twenty-five years. A few days before my birthday, my Mom had called to surprise me with concert tickets to a popular band playing in my hometown. I wanted to go, yet I didn’t have the money to travel home, so I thanked her for her gift and resolved to make the best of my birthday alone.
It was a beautiful day in March. I enjoyed what the day had to offer, and I decided to pop into the grocery store to purchase a few ingredients to cook myself a nice birthday dinner. As I returned to the parking lot, I saw that a woman was sitting in her car with a handwritten sign on her windshield.
My first thought was, “How strange!” But as I read the sign, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“FREE CONCERT TICKET.” The sign wildly flapped in the wind.
This woman was giving away her ticket to the very concert I had to miss because I couldn’t make it back home.
I accepted the ticket and hurried home to drop off my groceries and get ready for the concert. I knew this gift was from God and for the first time in a long time I allowed myself to receive God’s love and His gift just for me.
This is the heart of our heavenly Father. He not only loves and lavishes the righteous, He continuously makes himself known to the unrighteous. His heart is that all His children come to know Him with a personal relationship. (1st Peter 3:18)
Several months after my birthday, I was still in a dark and hurting place. Yet looking back, God was with me; He had His eye and His hand on me. I am often reminded of the story of the prodigal son when thinking back about that season of life.
“ ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son!’ But the father said to his bondservants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. And bring out that fattened calf and kill it and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry, because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’” Luke 15:21-24
The story of the prodigal son tells the story of a father who never once forgot about His son. Even when the son was deep in the messes of his own doing, the Father patiently waited, trusting that a father’s love would bring his son back home. Does this story sound familiar? This story is a picture of how God waits for each of us, all the while pursuing us with His great love, mercy, and forgiveness through Christ.
I was a prodigal daughter, far from home, distanced by my sinful, broken heart. At last, I realized that I needed to return home, and although I felt unworthy to seek forgiveness and healing. My heavenly Father drew me back to His embrace where I confessed my sins and received His healing. All of heaven rejoiced as another one of God’s children was found and made alive again.
That evening after I put the guitar pick away in a safe place, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that God had rescued me and restored my life. Even when I felt I didn’t deserve His love, He chose to love me and passionately pursue me anyway.
My story testifies that God never forsakes us. No matter where you find yourself today, how unworthy our undeserving you feel, you can never be too far from the embrace of His love. Because of His great love for each one of us, He patiently pursues our broken hearts until we fully surrender to Him. The Lord’s desire is restoration for every part of your past, your present, and your future. Come home to Him.