I was reminded recently of the extravagant love of God; a perfect love that works all things for our good, despite the struggles and suffering of this fallen world. No matter where we go or what we do, He is right there, pursuing us with His whole heart. And when we surrender to Him in trust, His Spirit moves in and goes to work, transforming us from within.
Mike and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary earlier this year. Long before we were born, God pursued us through the cross of Christ, and before we responded to His love, He had a plan for our lives.
Over the years, Mike voiced regrets that he had not seen his dad, since he was a teen. It was clear that he longed to see him, and to be a part of the family he’d missed out on. But, whenever I suggested he look for them, he declined. Fear of rejection kept him from reaching out.
“That was a long time ago,” I would remind him. “You were a child.”
For years, we lived a mere 250 miles from his dad’s hometown, but Satan’s lies and accusation made it seem like reconciliation was impossible. Then, in 2012, we moved 4,000 miles away to Alaska, exponentially decreasing the odds of any form of reunion. But God, in His infinite love and wisdom, had other plans.
Last year, while working as a home health nurse, I arrived at a patient’s home and was greeted by a young woman at the door. As I followed her back toward the patient’s room, I read the back of her T-shirt aloud.
Trina turned and smiled.
“Where do you go to church?” I asked.
“I haven’t found one,” she seemed to hesitate.
“Would you like to go with me?” Stepping way out of my comfort zone, I was generally not one to invite a stranger into friendship so quickly; I’ve always been a bit more slow and cautious.
From that moment, an unexpected friendship was formed. We soon discovered we were both from Texas; in fact, she was from the same hometown my husband was born in.
As our relationship deepened, we shared our stories with each other; the good and the bad. Her trials were not unlike mine when I was her age.
“Do you remember the day you started reading my t-shirt to me?” Trina asked one day. “The only reason I was wearing that shirt, was because I was running late for work that morning and that was the only clean shirt I could find.” She shared how she used to serve in ministry in a large congregation, but left after being severely wounded. “I was running from God,” she admitted. “But apparently, He was running after me!”
A year later, Trina decided to return home to Texas for several months. One week before leaving, I mentioned to her that Mike was born in her home town.
“Really? I have some cousins with your same last name.” She said.
“Maybe we’re related,” I joked. I had no idea how close I was to speaking reality, nor how significantly our lives were fixing to change.
A few days later, Trina approached Mike. “I know who your dad and step-mom are.” As she rattled off names and relations, Mike listened, considering the possibilities. Could it be true?
After Trina left for the airport, Mike turned to me. “I believe God is telling me it is time to reach out to my Dad.”
The next day, he sent a message to his step-mother on Facebook. Her response was swift and filled with grace and kindness. She was thrilled! Later that same day, Mike spoke with his Dad for the first time in 39 years. Thus, began a beautiful reunion. The following month, he boarded a plane to spend a week with a family; HIS FAMILY, and the healing and peace that resulted are immeasurable!
Some might call this reunion a coincidence, but I say that God is written all over it. He brought my husband back together with his family, despite 4,000 geographical miles and 39 years of separation.
Last year, He placed a precious young woman in our lives. Looking back to the day I met Trina, I am moved by God’s love. I am also deeply convicted. How many times have I ignored God-given opportunities to share His generous love with others? I’m not sure why I reached out to Trina that day, but I do know that I could have just as easily left our interaction to a smile, a few pleasantries and wished her a nice day.
God is teaching me that the smallest acts of faith on my part can lead to God-sized outcomes, if I will simply trust Him and love others in my everyday circumstances, as He has loved me.
As I contemplate the series of events that resulted in a special friendship formed, a young woman’s reconciliation with God and a man’s reunion with his family, I am reminded that God knows each one of us intimately. He cares deeply about the details of our lives, the wounds in our hearts, and the days He has ordained for us. He is all powerful, and there is truly nowhere we can go that He will not follow. His love has no limit; in fact, it’s truly extravagant!
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and You know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there Your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
15 My frame was not hidden from You
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalms 139:1-3; 7-10; 15, 16
God’s love has no limit; in fact, it’s truly extravagant!