We have choices. God is not in the business of dictatorship, and so he affords us the freedom to choose. From the time of our creation he has shown us his way; let us taste and see that he is good; warned us of the consequences of following our own desires, yet left us to decide. True love is not possessive. It does not cling. A loving parent directs their child towards healthy choices in living but releases them to live out their own lives. How much more does God love us and permit our freedom? How much more wayward and wilful are we when it comes to following God’s path? Like non-compliant children we veer off in different directions and, like a loving parent, God waits and watches knowing the end from the beginning and seeing what we are too blind to see.
Grace is given to us freely when we commit our lives to Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. His grace covers all our sins, all indiscretion, all misguided decisions and all wilfulness past, present and future. He came to seek and find what was lost. We are familiar with the parable of The Lost Sheep being lovingly sought and returned to the fold where, presumably, it would stay, but what of the persistent offender who, once returned to the fold, would continue to stray? The story is told that shepherds in Jesus’ day had a solution to this problem. The shepherd would look for the sheep that continued to stray and break its leg to ensure that it could not escape from the fold again.
The broken leg is symbolic of the consequences of sin. Being returned to the fold speaks of forgiveness. The fold is a safe place to be, under the protection of the shepherd. Outside the fold, where we go our own way, is not a safe place, and, while the Shepherd will look for us and take us home He may have to let us feel the pain of our actions as a means of protecting us from the greater dangers that exist outside the fold.
When we make wrong choices we will suffer the consequences of our actions, be they physical or spiritual, but the Shepherd will be there tending our wounds and teaching us to stay closer to Him the next time. Jesus said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10 – The Message).
Sometimes it takes time to learn the lesson. Sometimes we have to be broken first before we can truly live.