Lost sheep

peachtree

It’s been a wonderful July 4th holiday, as all of Hollianne’s family gathered in Atlanta for our annual family reunion.  Four siblings, their spouses, 10 nieces and nephews and Hollianne’s mother were in attendance for the celebration.  We always gather in Atlanta so we can run the annual Peachtree 10k (with 60,000 of our closest friends).  The run is a wonderful activity for Hollianne’s family.  All the siblings, their spouses and seven of the kids were scheduled to participate in the race this year.  The house is always filled with great stories about races from previous years and estimates on who will win the family “trophy” each year (it’s normally no surprise…as my sister-in-law, Susan, crushed us with her stamina, endurance and deft feet!).

While the race is the culminating event, the weekend truly focuses on family.  We cook, eat, laugh and hug all weekend. I’m so grateful to be a part of this loving family.

This year’s event was a little different- and stressful. Our daughter, Carson, had been away on a mission trip to inner-city New York and was set to fly in and join us late Thursday night.  Hurricane Arthur changed that plan- as it cancelled her flight and postponed her travel by 48 hours.  We couldn’t get her out of New York City for two whole days because of cancelled flights and booked planes.  While we were able to make adjustments for her and knew she would be safe, it was unsettling to Hollianne and me to have her so far away in a strange city.  What a beautiful reunion it was yesterday to finally get her in the same city.  We just felt better being able to have her in our presence….to be able to hug and talk to her in person.  We had a great reunion weekend, but there was an underlying uneasiness for us until we could get our child home.

Last night I reflected on the experience surrounding our daughter’s delayed plans.  While we were worried and anxious until Carson could join us, I just cannot fathom the depth and breadth of how much our heavenly Father is concerned for us.  He loves us beyond our own comprehension- and wants all of us to be with Him eternally.  Our earthly families are important, but as Christians we should realize that our broader, eternal family is the focus of our loving God- even with our flaws and imperfections.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders  and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘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: 3-7

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  Matthew 18:12

We are loved, thank God.  Even with a world population of over 7 billion people, our Father cares for us INDIVIDUALLY…and loves us despite our actions and behaviors.  How comforting is it that God is concerned for us in a way that is unparalleled by any earthly relationship.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

While Hollianne and I could not rest and relax until Carson returned to us, the Lord is infinitely more concerned with our souls and our eternal destination.  God is a loving God, even giving up His son to bear the pain of our sin so that we can live with Him forever.

Thank. God.

I hope that your July 4th holiday was filled with family, fun, food and laughter.  I also hope that you were able to reflect on the love that our heavenly Father has for us.

God bless you.

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