Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. James 5:19,20
I have wandered from the truth several times. I am ashamed to say that, but I know it has happened to many. There is a wonderful story Jesus tells, because he knew there would be “Prodigals”.
The Parable of the Lost Son: (NIV)
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
I also think of Jesus’ disciple, Peter. He denied that he was a follower of Christ three times after Jesus was arrested. Peter’s story didn’t end there. Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to tell Him that he loved Jesus three times after He rose from the dead. Peter was made a solid rock that a church could be built on.
God is a God of second chances. In fact, when Jesus talked about forgiving others, he said that even when our brother sins against us seventy times, seven times in a day, and asks for forgiveness, we are to forgive.
God forgave many people in the Bible who had wandered away from Him. People who had committed murder, like David, when he had Bathsheba’s husband killed. David knew God, yet he slipped and did an awful thing, yet God forgave him.
Sampson kept testing God, by telling Delilah the secret to his strength, until it was found out and his eyes were put out, and he was made a slave of the Philistines. He prayed to God for one more opportunity to defeat the Philistines, to wanted to have revenge on them for taking away his sight. God heard Sampson’s prayer, and he was given power for that one last feat of great strength against the Philistines.
I know that God never gives up on us. Jesus also tells the parable of the lost sheep, so we can know for sure, that when we’ve wandered away, He’ll take us back. The Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to look for the one that is lost.
Like the prodigal, our loving Father is waiting for his lost children to return. He will run to us with open arms, accept us, and wash us clean. He will feed us with His Holy Word, and He will seal us with His Spirit to let us know that we are still His children.
Don’t let fear and guilt keep you away from God.
Dear Lord, thank You for accepting us as Your children, even though we do terrible things. I am so grateful for Your mercy and forgiveness. Your mercy endures forever! Amen.