Leaving the Ninety-Nine

The summer before we opened Grace House, our addiction recovery home for women, we spent a lot of time as a team dreaming about what God had in store for the future of the home.  One afternoon as I was spending time with Jesus in Grace House, God pushed on one of my buttons that I didn’t even know existed. I heard Him simply ask me, “Missy, are you willing to do all this for just one woman?” Honestly, the question took me by surprise and I was somewhat offended. Without realizing it, I had come to believe that my actions held more significance if I was doing more, if I  built larger programs and created systems that would help reshape the masses. To this day, I’m still so stirred hearing about entire movements of people coming to know the Lord, but I’ve also had to come to accept the reality that one of the core messages of Jesus was about valuing the person right there in front of me.

JESUS WAS ALWAYS MODELING HOW TO EXTRAVAGANTLY LOVE THOSE ON THE FRINGES, THE UNSEEN, THE BROKEN AND VULNERABLE BECAUSE THEY WERE VALUABLE ENOUGH FOR HIM TO GIVE EVERYTHING HE HAD.

In that intimate moment with God, part of me wanted to respond wholeheartedly to the question, but I knew I had to be willing to let the idea of “bigger equals better” fall to the ground and die.  Eventually, I discovered that in surrendering my lofty ideas, my eyes were opened to see His Kingdom through a lens I never even knew existed.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us a story of a shepherd who had 100 sheep and discovered one of them was lost. Jesus said the shepherd left the 99 sheep in the field and went after the one who was lost. He was willing to be inconvenienced and sacrifice greatly to go after that one sheep. When he came back with the lost sheep, he didn’t return with his eyes rolling in frustration, put out by the extra effort.  On the contrary, he returned rejoicing, inviting his friends to celebrate with him because he was able to bring his lost sheep home.

The majority of the women who walk through the doors of Grace House are weary and broken. When they apply to the program and we ask them why they want long-term treatment, the overarching message we hear is, “I’m dying and I need God’s help to show me how to live.” As we get to know them, we hear the same story retold again and again: beautiful girls robbed of their innocence in early childhood and left to survive through any means they knew how. This eventually leads them to use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, which quickly spirals into full-on addiction. They suffer the loss of their beautiful personalities Jesus formed before the foundation of the world.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD LEFT THE 99 BECAUSE HE KNEW THAT SOMETIMES LIFE TRANSFORMATION TAKES MORE THAN JUST A GOSPEL PRESENTATION.

Someone must be willing to enter into the suffering that runs throughout their story and walk with them one step at a time to help them find the way out.

Whether or not your life looks like mine, spending my days sitting with the Good Shepherd as women are healed, all of us are being invited to help His lost sheep come home.  We are all invited to be extensions of the pursuit of Heaven to broken and vulnerable people around us.

IN RESPONSE //

Is there someone God has put on your heart to love and invest in? Ask God how you can encourage them this week. If you can’t think of anyone, ask God to show you someone in your workplace, at school or in your neighborhood that you can encourage and reach out to.

By Missy Morris – Grace House Program Director

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