Stolen. This is the word that has been rolling through my heart over and over. I believe God’s been using this word to rework my thoughts and soften my heart. Read this passage from Psalm 139 with me:
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
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.
16Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
This is God’s love letter to us! I don’t know how many times I’ve read this to myself when I needed to remember just how much my Father loves me. What joy it brings to know that his thoughts of me are innumerable, but this post isn’t about his thoughts of me, or of you, it’s about the stolen.
As our world grows increasingly hostile towards the views of God-fearing believers we risk our hearts growing bitter and angry towards those who are lashing out to us. I too have found myself angry at political leaders, or false teachers I hear leading others off course, or many others I could think of that are in my day to day life. Stop for a minute and think of the person who gets your blood boiling the most right now. Really do it…got one?…or two or three? Read on…
Those people you like the least were created by God (duh! You knew that didn’t you?!). That passage above about God being there when they were being crafted in their mother’s womb was for them too (I can feel your eye rolls from here- this is Sunday School teaching I know). God needed all the good characteristics in those people to make the world he created better reflect him. Somewhere in their life Satan told them lie after lie and quietly stole them away from God. Still not feeling moved to tears for their lost souls? Nope, I really wasn’t either. Let’s be honest, those are the ones that we think they should have something coming for them! These are the people we wish God will judge with the same hand he tore Sodom and Gomorrah apart with. These are the people we back away from waiting for God to strike them down. We’re talking the worst of the worst! These are the people I feel offended by because I feel I need to be offended FOR my God. I feel like somehow my indignation is justifiable because they have spit on the face of my Father. He MUST be angry by their actions, and therefore I may also be angry on his behalf.
Then God painted me this extremely uncomfortable picture. You’ve heard of those crazy, awful, make you sick in the pit of your soul stories of children who were kidnapped and held hostage in a house for years and years until they no longer remember what the rest of the world looks like? Those children that, once found, are so broken that it takes years and years, if ever to undo the damage done? Those kids. They are stolen. (And thank God that those stories are so rare!!) Truthfully, he painted that picture as if it were my kid that were stolen, and I wanted with all my being to vomit. I wonder if God feels the same when he sees his kids here on earth that have been stolen.
Now, should you happen upon the house where they had been held hostage, and you were the first person to make contact with them after they had only known their kidnapper for years, how do you approach them? Well, I’ve not been there, thank goodness (and I pray it never happen to anyone I know!!), but I’d imagine you go slowly. You let them know you aren’t going to hurt them. If it were my child being approached I would hope it would be done with gentleness, and cautiousness. You make allowances for social norms they miss, and don’t take offence to actions from them. Why? Because you understand someone has done immense damage mentally, physically, and emotionally to them.
That heart. Your heart. Right now. THAT’S the heart God wants you to use for his stolen children. The kidnapper is Satan, and locks up God’s children mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually until they no longer resemble God’s kids. John 10:10 tells us that, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (a)”. The word “thief” in that passage actually means “one who steals” in Greek. He steals them away, then holds them hostage with lies, he feeds them anger, fear, false confidence, and a sick and twisted version of love that resembles nothing that love is. And you, you may be the first one to happen upon one of these stolen kids.
That person whose name you thought of early that bothers you to the core because they seem to be offending not only you but your Father as well, they are a stolen kid. They have been swept away from the very Father you feel they are offending. You both come from the same Father! They are afraid of you and don’t know why. They are afraid of you because their soul knows you are not speaking from the familiar place their kidnapper speaks from. And you have the chance to rescue them and call back to a place of hope. That justifiable anger you’ve been feeling towards them isn’t justifiable at all, because God is a Father who wants his kid back. Your offence that you took from them is not you feeling offended FOR God because He is not that easily offended. Our PRIDE is, HIS pride is not. We don’t need to protect our Father, we need to protect our siblings. We need to reclaim the stolen from the thief, the enemy.
So, do you judge the stolen for their inability to respond in a godly manner? Do you get angry when they spit in your direction? No you don’t! God did not plan for their lives to be as you see it, he has so much more to offer. The rest of John 10:10 tells that God has “come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Look at the face of person you perhaps despise and know that they are a sister or brother who has lost site of their Dad. They have been away from him so long they can’t remember what he looks like, or sounds like or how he wants them to behave and speak. God wants them back. He wants them to have life to the fullest, and you are in their very lives right now because you can love them like a sister or brother.
From here on out, when someone begins to get under your skin, whisper the word “STOLEN” to yourself. Ask God for eyes to see them as a child who has lost sight of their Father’s house rules, and most importantly the true love that he has to offer. Offer them unconditional love and gentleness by holding out your hand in hopes that you can show them more than they’ve witnessed in the basement of a thief after all these years.
Father, thank you for chasing relentlessly after your lost sheep. May we have eyes, ears and hearts for your stolen children. Would you keep our hearts soft, and let us not take offence from those who have lost sight of you. Would you help me to let my life reflect the Father they have lost sight of? In Jesus name, Amen.