A couple of years ago, there was a young woman in the news by the name of Jennifer Wilbanks. You may have heard her story. She was a 32-year-old medical assistant from Duluth, Georgia, who told her fiance that she was going out jogging. She never returned. Not knowing where she was, her fiance and her family were frantic. The sheriff's department was called, and soon, search and rescue crews and several army helicopters joined the search. To them, it was a life and death situation.
Days later she was finally located -- safe -- in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She had gotten "cold feet" four days before her wedding, cut her hair, bought a bus ticket, and left town. I'm not going to comment on any of that, but I remember a quote from her mother. Can you only imagine the anguish and heartache this mother experienced during the days her daughter was missing? Jennifer Wilbanks' mother said, "I never gave up hope that she would be found."
Did you know that Jesus says the same thing about us? Just think about the tears of joy and celebration that took place when Jennifer's family learned that she was safe. It reminds me of the time Jesus said in Luke, chapter 15, "In the same way," he said, "there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents."
It may be that the only thing in the created order stronger than a mother's love for her child is God's love for His lost children. As determined as was Jennifer Wilbanks' mother, God is even more determined that His lost children will return home. God's dream and intent for the future is that what is lost will be found. God will not rest until His lost and wandering children are reclaimed. And when that happens, all heaven rejoices.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas