We just had an open house in our new office! (I will share some pictures in this post from it!) It was such a lovely turnout of people who came to celebrate with us God’s continued writing of the Collide story. It has been a story of God taking nothing and making something. It has been a story of God taking pain and writing redemption chapters. It has been a story of God using women to do things they never thought possible. It has been a story of basement to building, and now having a space to minister out of and call home.
One of the staff’s favorite part of the open house was the one woman who walked in unexpectedly. She works in the building we now share. She has no experience with Collide but knows some people who do. She walked in and we handed her a key, as we did everyone, and said “Welcome home.” She stood in our storage room so blessed by this sentiment. She was surrounded by people who have led worship, fundraised, cooked, guided women into counseling, led our mentoring program, painted beautiful art, shared their stories, and given of their money, all in the hopes to touch and impact lives at our events and gatherings. And here she stood with a key in hand and a “welcome home” because she wandered by and walked in.
I don’t know her story. I don’t know her pain. I don’t know her journey with Jesus. But I do know one thing, God cares about her life. If she would have been the only one who showed up to the open house, it would have been well worth it. She was supposed to be standing in our kitchen surrounded by all these Colliders.
I went home after the open house and as I was saying goodnight to my kid, he mentioned that he was pretty concerned about a friend at school who hasn’t been there in weeks. He said he has tried texting him to make sure he is okay. He asked me to do something. I have to admit, I was tired and it was late and what could I do anyway? I called my husband Rob in and expressed Aidan’s concern.
I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to write someone you barely know off as “Not your business” or “Someone else’s concern.” It’s easy to assume they are “fine” or someone else is “surely looking after them.” It was easy to approach this conversation with my son with this kind of laissez faire trust that someone else is doing something about the kid who hasn’t been to school in about a month. But there was something that rose out of Aidan’s gut. He had a passion and a fierceness about him that wouldn’t let his parents off the hook that easy.
Just that one.
You know what that is that was coming out of Aidan? It was an absolute determination that aligns with the heart of God. Just that one matters. That kid who hasn’t been to school, his life matters. And yes, maybe a teacher or a principal or a social worker or a family member has it figured out. But maybe they don’t. And his life matters enough for us to be certain.
God is a God who cares about just one. He will run until He is sweaty and wheezing to catch up to someone. He is called the Hound of heaven. He chases people down and stalks them like crazy. God isn’t going to be ok with one lost kid absent for days for who knows what reason. God loves all His kids. And when I immerse myself in the parable Jesus told in Luke 15 about what God would do for just one, I can’t help but wonder if Aidan’s inability to go to sleep at peace until he knew this kid was okay, isn’t how we all should be?
The one coin mattered so much to the woman, that she searched and swept to find it.
Only one sheep escaped. Still the shepherd has 99 others. 99. That’s 99 percent retention rate. That sounds pretty good to me. It’s not good enough for God. Jesus describes God like the Shepherd who leaves the 99 and goes out finding the one, because just that one matters.
The father waited while his lost son plundered his father’s wealth and turned his back on him. As soon as the father saw his son trudge back ashamed, the father ran like heck and bear hugged his son with all the love and grace He had within Him. The father could do nothing else but wait and watch in the hopes of that one son being welcomed home.
Just that one.
Welcoming people home is the business of God. That is what He is all about. He is a God who is always welcoming us home, wherever we have journeyed, whatever roads we have traveled, whatever choice led us down a dark alley, whatever victory found us on the peaks and whatever fall skinned our knees on the way back up. If there is even one person who isn’t at home in your life, are you finding yourself like my husband and I making excuses and justifications why they will figure it out, why your voice and efforts won’t matter, why someone else will help? Or are you finding yourself unable to be at home within your own heart, like Aidan, until you know they are safe, sound, taken care of, and know they matter?
Perhaps chasing people down, handing them a key, welcoming them home to a space they can stay awhile, making it known you notice their absence, perhaps all these kinds of things are at the very heart of God. Perhaps they are the most spiritual things we can be up to and when we are, it is then that people who need it most, will know God always invites them home. And perhaps, when we enter into this kind of work we will be most at home, too.
I know what my family is doing this afternoon. We are being urged to do the work of making sure that even just one knows they matter. Let us all be inspired by a God who is not at home until we are. Let’s go hand out some keys.