“‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way 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 15:1-8
I grew up in church, as many people do. But as I grew older, I began to experience doubt, not only in my religion and my family, but in myself. I was changing and, in many ways, no longer felt accepted in my religion. After a while, the negativity and self-doubt told me I wasn’t worthy of God’s love.
I allowed myself to become angry. I hated everything about the church and anyone who was involved in it and unable to see how dissatisfied I was. Finally, I realized I needed to do something, and I began to wonder if I had made a mistake in leaving my faith.
Going back to church was not easy. I felt constantly confused and uncomfortable, and honestly, I often still do.
But this passage from Luke, spoken by my college pastor during a service, awakened something in me. All this time, I was still allowing myself to believe I was no longer worthy of God’s love. This parable reminded me that those negative thoughts weren’t true. No matter how far I stray from God’s path, He will always be there for me when I choose to return. Our God is a patient and merciful one and now, whenever I hear these words, I feel validated in His love for me.
It is so easy to allow the outside world to cloud your judgment, but I encourage you to take the time and reflect on a time you felt left behind by God. Was it truly God who left you behind, or was it you who allowed yourself to turn away from Him?
By Elizabeth Von Mann, Morehead State Wesley Foundation, KY East District