By Steve Biddison
How far does God’s love and forgiveness extend? We all know the theological answer that tells us God forgives even our gravest sins and that there is nothing that can separate us from His love. And that is true. However, often times, in our own shame and guilt, we do not feel God’s love and we our subconscious does not allow us to accept His forgiveness. We either wallow in our own mire of disparity or we completely turn our back on God, believing that we do not deserve what He can give us.
That theme of God’s love and forgiveness is a big part of my recent fictional romance book, Desires of the Heart. Both the Eric and Lacey are in dire need of God’s forgiveness for things they had done in the past. Though the book is a romance between two people, at its core we see how God works in their hearts, through a variety of means, to show His love and forgiveness.
I want to share with you an excerpt from the book that not only started Lacey’s conviction of needing to return to the God of her childhood, but also has a message for anyone today who might feel they have gone too far for God to still want them.
Lacey again reached over to lay her hand on top of Eric’s. She needed the strength he gave her when she held his hand. The preacher’s words were stinging her. As hard as she tried, she could not ignore them. God can’t really use me, she told herself. I have blown it so many times, there is no chance that I could be of any use to God!!! I can’t be anything. God, don’t you understand the family I came from? Don’t you know what I have done? How could I amount to anything after having been such a loser?
“You might be thinking that your past is too bad for God to use you,” the preacher said. “But the reality is that God loves using people who are not supposed to succeed. In fact, sometimes the more of a loser the person is, the greater God uses him.” Lacey squeezed Eric’s hand tighter and leaned her head against his shoulder. She needed his strength to keep the tears from flowing freely.
“The book of Matthew opens the New Testament with the same type of genealogy as we read about in the Gospel of Luke.” The preacher continued. “Only this time we see the line from Abraham to Joseph, who was Jesus’ adoptive father on earth. We see several great people of God like King David and Abraham. But we also see people who were not so great in history. King Manasseh, one of the very wicked kings in Jewish history is in that line. We see Gentiles who were considered to be unclean by Jewish standards and we see women who unfortunately in that society were not usually deemed important enough to mention. Perhaps most interesting is that we even see a prostitute in the line of Jesus.” Lacey had never realized that before. God had used a prostitute to carry out His plan. Could God really still use her?
Lacey closed her eyes, trying to shut out the flood of guilt that had begun to flood over her. She opened them again when she heard keyboard and guitar music sounding in the background. The preacher was still speaking. “If you have had some trouble in your past that you think might be keeping you from fully experiencing God, then I invite you to come to the front and meet with God. We have prayer counselors waiting for you up here or you can pray alone.”
Within seconds, Lacey watched as scores of people flooded the isles heading to the front of the auditorium. Could so many people have such serious problems? Everyone stood to their feet as the music continued to play and the guy who had been introduced as the worship leader at the beginning of the service began to lead them all in another song.
But then the memories of college began to announce themselves firmly in her mind. That was the period in her life when her downward spiral intensified. No, she had been no worse than most other college students. In fact, probably better than most. But she knew that she had fully turned her back on God and admittedly refused to have anything to do with Him or a church. But now, as she watched the line of people marching forward, she wondered if she needed to join that group.
But what would Eric think of her? She tilted her head upwards to try to read his face. His eyes were lost in his own trance of thought. Maybe God was dealing with him too? She continued to watch his face, looking for any twitch or thought that might give him an inkling to step towards the isle and make his way to the front. If he goes up, I’ll go up, she promised herself. But Eric never moved.