I fumbled with the keys to the door leading to my office in the lower level of a house that is home to five people with developmental disabilities. As the door opened, he was waiting for me, still pajama clad, slightly unsteady of gait, one side somewhat disabled by childhood polio--it was just the start of the day--but he was anxious to tell me, in his distinctly Italian accent, "Hey! We miss you at church yesterday!"
"I missed you too, John," I said, "But the baby dedication I went to at my friend's church was very special."
I thought later that John would be a great person to call people if they missed church. When I drive him and his wife home after church each week, we have a ritual of going through the drive-through at Tim Hortons for a large double-double for John and a medium steeped tea with milk and sugar for his lady. It never fails--the girls in the window lean over and yell into the car, "Hi John! How are you?" and he shouts a teasing comment back--the rest of us in the car might as well be invisible. He is known all over town--by everybody--for his sense of humour, bantering skills and outgoing personality. Yes, the role of "missing people follower-upper" would fit him perfectly. How nice it was to know that I was missed at church and to be told so with such warmth the moment I stepped through the door.
Before leaving the house this morning I was reading some verses from scripture that gave me a similar feeling. I read that "We all, like sheep have gone astray," Isaiah 53:6. "Yes," I thought, "Absolutely--we are a wandering and wayward race of beings, we humans.
But God doesn't leave us alone to wander in the wilderness without help. "He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Psalm 23:3 "Does he not leave the ninety and nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" Luke 15:4
Yes, he does! He is the God of fresh starts and new beginnings--the God of all hope. God doesn't just love me when I'm doing well, but when I'm struggling--as I was recently--spinning out of control in some areas of life--he cares and helps us back. That thought made me feel so wanted, safe and secure.