So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Â Â Genesis 3:23-24 (NLT)
[Jesus said,] â€œThe Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.” Â Â Luke 19:10 (CEV)
The tree of life can be found again in Revelation 22. It is found along the bank of the river of life that flows from the throne of God. God banished His children from this paradise because they themselves over Him. As much as He loves His children, He cannot live with them if they are covered in sin.
But God, our Father, didn’t give up on us. He had a plan. Adam, Noah, Moses, Rahab, David, through Mary and Joseph had a choice in God’s plan until Jesus came to look for and save all of us who were lost to the Father. I made a choice to accept Jesus’ free gift. How many more are still wandering around trying to find the path out of despair, suffering, confusion, and all manner of pain?
The county that I live in has recently changed the panhandling ordinances. The news last night showed film accounts of homeless individuals being arrested. This is a very difficult time of year for the homeless. Low temperatures, decreasing donations to agencies who assist the needy, and now laws that carry a $500 fine and jail. I guess that would give them â€œthree hots and a cotâ€, wouldn’t it?
I share that news bit because Jesus said He came to save the lost. What was Jesus’ example on how to do this? He fed 5,000 (Matthew 14) and 4,000 (Matthew 15). Jesus fed spirit and body. What are we doing? How are we reaching out to the lost? Is it someone else’s problem? Is my nose so sensitive that the smell of the homeless is unwelcome in worship? Jesus said in His parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22) to go out into the streets and bring in â€œanyone you findâ€. Not just the clean and shaved people but all. Have I posted my own flaming sword to keep â€œsomeâ€ from finding their way to Jesus? I stand in witness to a message by my actions. Is it a message from Jesus or of my own judgmental making? Those are uncomfortable, hard questions that I do not want the Holy Spirit to put to me.
The Prayer of Saint Francis is on my desk. It catches my eye almost every day. I frequently paraphrase Scripture to meditate on a passage in my own words. I was doing the same to this prayer last night.
Lord, make me the instrument of your peace that you desire.
Where hatred is spoken or creates acts â€“ use me to show your love.
Where someone has sustained an in jury â€“ help me to show them how to forgive like you.
Where doubt is causing confusion in a life â€“ may I be used like you did Aaron and Hur for Moses.
Where despair is burying someone in a pit â€“ may I be a conduit of your hope.
Where someone is lost in darkness â€“ may I carry a candle of your Light.
Where there is grief and sadness â€“ may your joy in me overflow.
Oh, my LORD, may I not look so much for comfort but instead comfort others;
not look to be understood but to extend understanding to my neighbor;
or look for love but instead love others like you have loved me â€“ unconditionally.
Because when I give â€“ I receive.
When I forgive â€“ I am forgiven.
Because when I give up, permanently let go, of my way of living my life, I am born into your life, LORD.
Jesus came to look for me and save me so that I would tell others about what He has done for me; for all of us. There is no Plan B.