Monday, July 8, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: On Loving Everyone, including the outcasts

Rescuing the Outcasts
A devotional by Amanda Wen

“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel.” 
–Psalm 147:2 (ESV)

I had never heard such a squawking ruckus in all my life.

I was about twelve years old, biking with my family at a nearby park that summer evening. The shrieks and honks alerted us to the presence of a young Canadian goose, still covered with downy gray fluff, being chased away by a pack of hissing, flapping adult geese. The rejected gosling was running for his life, but it was clear he had no shot against the furious flock at his heels.

Fortunately for the little outcast, my dad stepped in. He chased off the adults, wrangled the gosling, quickly biked home to get our car, and brought him home with us for the night. The young goose—who we nicknamed Waddles—snuggled down for the night in a plastic bin, greeted the next dawn with enthusiastic peeping, and stole all our hearts.

We couldn’t keep him as a pet, though, much as we might have wanted to. So that day we called an acquaintance who ran a local wildlife rehabilitation facility. He retrieved the gosling, cared for him, and eventually gave the little guy a safe home with a new, welcoming family of Canadian geese.

That incident reminds me so much of Jesus. Throughout His time on earth, He rescued those the world had tossed aside. The blind and the deaf. The lame and the leprous. Women. Children. Members of ethnic groups He, as a Jew, was supposed to despise. Jesus welcomed them all with open arms and met them with the message that God loved them. He hadn’t forgotten them, and He offered them forgiveness from sin and a chance at a brand-new life. The woman who bled for twelve years. The man possessed by a legion of demons. The Samaritan woman at the well. The children the disciples wanted to chase away. All these outcasts—and countless more—came away from their encounters with Jesus forever changed.

But I also find that incident convicting. Do I, as someone whose life has been changed by Jesus, have the same heart for the outcast that He does? Do I look around in the midst of my busy life to reach out to those who, for whatever reason, don’t meet our society’s mold of “acceptable?” Do I share the same message of love, redemption, and the opportunity for forgiveness during my interactions with them?

Jesus rescued me when I was an outcast. A sinner, rebelling against Him. He met me when I had no hope and gave me a new life, a new purpose, and a new eternal destiny. 

As a child of God, I need to be intentional about seeing the outcast. The downtrodden. The ignored. Those our society—and even our churches—may deem “less than.”

And once I’ve found them, it is my joy—and my sacred responsibility—to share the same message of unconditional love and complete forgiveness that I have received, in hopes that these former outcasts will be brought into a similar life-changing encounter with Him.

Author Bio:
Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of contemporary inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. 

A first place winner in the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, she also placed first in the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, the 2017 Great Expectations Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. In addition, she was a finalist in the 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest.

Amanda is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She’s also been spotted onstage with the worship team at recent ACFW conferences. Amanda is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

In addition to her writing, Amanda maintains an active and rewarding career as a freelance cellist, frequently performing with symphony orchestras, string quartets, and her church’s worship team. She lives in the Midwest with her amazing husband and their three adorable and hilarious Wenlets.

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