The following is a blog post by Kristi Wile, one of the Awaken Conference speakers. To read more of Kristi’s blogs, go to www.myheartsjournal.com.
Yesterday, my husband and I ran to the grocery store for a few things. As we were leaving, we saw a little blond-haired girl standing all alone on the corner. My heart was alarmed. She was too small to be standing there all by herself. We turned around and parked the car to see if we could observe what was happening. A man was walking, seemingly with purpose, across a parking lot towards the little girl. Maybe he was coming to get her? But he walked with his steady purpose right past her, only glancing casually in her direction. I had to do something.
I got out of the car and walked towards her. She was not looking in my direction. Distracted by the view in front of her, her head was down. As I got closer, I began to call to her. “Sweetie, are you by yourself?” She didn’t hear me the first time as her attention was really taken up by something unimportant. It felt uncomfortable, but I called again. “Sweetie, are you by yourself?” She turned to me then.
In a few short minutes, 4 year old Libby told me that her mommy lost her. She reluctantly took my hand and we walked together back into the store to get help. As we walked, her grasp in mine became tighter as I assured her that we would find her mommy. We didn’t even make it to the manager’s booth before I heard “Libby!” And there was her mommy, arms open wide to embrace that precious little girl. Her mama hug swallowed her whole and lifted her off her feet while she spoke tenderly in her ear with words of love and assurance. Libby’s arms wrapped fully around her mother’s neck, sure to never let go again.
Her mother and I exchanged explanations. Her mom said she’d turned around and Libby was gone. I told her where I’d found her, outside the store. Mom’s eyes held much more than her grateful thank you’s could ever say. I am a mom, too. I know that feeling.
But as I walked away, I saw a greater picture in this story.
I was that little girl. Not in a literal sense, but in a spiritual sense. And I wandered away from God. I can’t even say exactly what distracted me, but something surely did. Busyness? Relationships? My new career? Or maybe just laziness and lack of motivation? Perhaps it was all the above. Whatever the cause, I wandered away until I found myself totally lost.
One big difference here is that God didn’t just turn around and realize I was missing. No, He knows all and I am sure He was watching me wander away, tears on his face. But He knows that I will be found, for that is his purpose.
As I think back, I recognize that God had provided other women who saw me in that aimless, distracted state and weren’t afraid to reach out to me. They gently approached me, called out to me, spoke tenderly to me, took my hand and led me back. It wasn’t a direct “I’m going to take you back to God.” But rather they just loved me and came along side me where I was. And because of that love, I went where they were going.
I wasn’t found quite as quickly as Libby was. It took time. Matters of the heart do take time. But I am found! I returned to God who was waiting for me with his arms open wide. I have been lifted up and set on a firm foundation. He continues to speak tenderly to me, words of love and assurance.
This story is not just about me though. It causes me to think about others around me. Do I see the one who is wandering aimlessly off by themselves? Or am I just content to mind my own business? If I do see the lost one, do I simply glance in their direction as I continue on my purposeful path? Or am I willing to see them with eyes of compassion and love them with the love of Jesus? If I was led back by someone’s obedience, then there are others who need me to also step out in obedience to gently lead them back.
James 5: 19-20 says My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (ESV)
Father, give me your eyes for those who are wandering and find themselves lost. I am ever grateful that You brought me back to yourself. And I want others to know this freedom that comes with being found by You.