A former missionary tells the story of a woman named Maria who lived in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of a village in Brazil. Her husband died when their only child, Christina, was a baby. Maria raised Christina on her own, working as a maid to support the family. When Christina turned 15, she dreamed of experiencing life in the big city.
Maria knew what would happen to such a beautiful girl in the city and often warned Christina about the cruelty there, but one morning she found Christina's bed empty. Maria gathered some clothes and all the money she had and headed for the city. On the way she stopped at a photo booth and took as many pictures of herself as she could afford. When she reached the city, she looked for Christina in various hotels known to be used by prostitutes.
She never found her, but at each location she left one of her pictures behind in a conspicuous place. When her money and pictures ran out, she returned home. Weeks later, Christina, who had in fact become a prostitute, was using one of the hotels her mother had visited. She noticed one of the pictures her mother had left behind and in tears pulled it off the bulletin board. When she turned it over she found this message on the back: "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn't matter –please come home."
God wrote that same message for us in blood on a cross nearly two thousand years ago. Whatever ungodliness we may have fallen into, have wallowed in it, God longs for us to come home and rejoices when we arrive.
Ashby Camp has well written: “It is true that we must never trivialize sin or make one casual about it. Sin must be portrayed as the horror and danger that it is. It also is true, however, that we must not mute the glory of God's grace out of fear it will be twisted into a license to sin. Paul was accused of promoting sin by his doctrine of grace (cf. Rom. 3:8; 6:1), but he never allowed that possible distortion to discourage him from proclaiming the depth of God's mercy.”
May all who turn to God grasp in their hearts the reality of the Lord’s forgiveness, experience the blessing of liberation from all guilt, and know the hope of the glorious eternity that has been purchased for them. And when they do, may they, together with us, tell the world what a marvelous God we serve.