It was in David A. Redding’s “Jesus Makes Me Laugh” that I read a story that truly captures the essence of ‘Isaiah 49:15-16’ and portrays the depth of God’s mercy and His matchless ability to remain steadfastly faithful even in the face of sheer rebellion and unabashed unfaithfulness.
Teddy was my dog, and he would do anything for me. A big black Scottish shepherd, he always wait for me to come home from school. He slept beside me, and when I whistled he ran to me even if he was eating. At night, no one would get within a half mile without Teddy’s permission. During those long summers in the fields, I would only see the family at night, But Teddy was with me all the time. And so when I went away to war, I didn’t know How to leave him. How do you explain to someone who loves you that you’re leaving him and you wouldn’t be chasing woodchucks with him tomorrow like always. So coming home that first time from the Navy (during World War 2) was something I can scarcely describe. The last bus stop was fourteen miles from the farm. I got off there that night about 11.00 and walked the rest of the way home. It was two or three in the morning before I was within a half mile of the house. It was pitch dark, but I knew every step of the way. Suddenly Teddy heard me and began his warning barking. Then I whistled only once. The barking stopped. There was a yelp of recognition, and I knew that a big black form was hurtling toward me in the darkness. Almost immediately he was there in my arms. What comes home to me now is the eloquence with which that unforgettable memory speaks to me of my God. If my dog, without any explanation, would love me and take me back after all that time, wouldn’t my God?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” [Romans 12:1-2 NKJV]
Someone once said the problem with a living sacrifice is that it always tries to crawl away from the altar and so it is with our fleshly tendencies to sometimes wander away from His will but the good news is that whatever the extent of our sins, God is faithful and just enough to forgive and restore us to Himself. All we need do is to acknowledge our fallen state and retrace our steps. God says in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” so you can be very assured that His arms are always wide open and heaven will sure rejoice over you no matter how far you’ve missed it. Like the prodigal son, realize your sorry state, acknowledge your need for Him and run back into His waiting arms. Tap into His awesome might, receive the grace to live above sin and constantly renew your mind. The wind will sure blow and life challenges will try to toss you to and fro but when you’re firmly rooted in Him, He will give you strength for the journey, guide you through its rough waters and be there for you every step of the way. Trust in Him with all your heart, lean not on your understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and let every aspect of your life glorify His name. You will live an impactful life and succeed exceedingly!