Rescued, Adopted, Restored
Scripture tells us that we have been carefully and lovingly made by the Master Sculptor of the universe. Genesis 2 describes us as being personally and intimately shaped into being by God, with the very breath of God being blown into us, giving us life. Genesis 1 proclaims that we were formed in the very image of God and declared to be “very good.” Psalm 139 announces that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Sadly, something went wrong, and people became marred by sin. It is as though we have fallen into “the wrong hands.”
In his book Lessons from a Sheep Dog, Phillip Keller illustrates what happened to us by describing what happened in the life of a border collie named Lass, whom Keller adopted. When Keller first found Lass, she was “chained from her collar to a steel post, but also was hobbled by a second chain from her neck to her back leg.” Keller recalled, “As I approached Lass on the day that I found her in such a forlorn state, she met me with blazing eyes, low growls, and bared teeth. She did not want me to touch her. She trembled at the tone of my unfamiliar voice. This was not surprising. She had been misused, abused, twisted and torn in spirit.” (p. 6)
Keller explains the problem: “Unfortunately, Lass had fallen into the wrong hands. Under the mishandling of the wrong owner, her talent had been twisted and subverted for destructive ends. Her vitality and instincts were being wasted on chasing boys and bicycles. Her capacity for worthwhile work was expended on the empty pursuit of cars. The upshot was, day by day, she herself unwittingly was forging the shackles of steel that bound her.” (p. 5)
Lass was intended for great things. She was bred with intelligence, speed, stamina and skills that were meant to be used in the fine art of herding sheep. But under the care of the wrong master, she was not living up to what she was meant to be.
Paul says the same about us in Ephesians 2:1-3: “You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.”
In this sin-filled world, we have fallen into “the wrong hands,” and we have failed to live up to what we were intended to be. Keller makes the connection between Lass and us: “For in the dusty dog, hobbled with chains, I saw portrayed the plight of men and women who, originally destined for noble service, have fallen into the wrong hands. Now they groveled in the despair of wasted, misspent years.” (p. 3-4)
The good news is that Keller adopted Lass, and in that adoption Lass found new life. Keller writes, “Lass discovered, to her delight, that what she had found was not new chains, abuse, or bondage. What she had come home to was warmth, understanding, affection, and the thrilling freedom to fulfill the purposes for which she had been bred. All she had to do was to follow me! It was I who would introduce her into a remarkable relationship of mutual trust, undivided loyalty, happy comradeship, and worthwhile work she had never experienced before.” (p. 19-20)
This new life happened because Keller reached out and rescued Lass even when she was a broken & angry dog. It was Keller’s love that freed her.
That’s the message Paul shares with us in Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
For Lass, the change from angry dog to contented companion took time. She had to learn to trust Keller. But the new life began as soon as she came into the care of the master who loved her and would handle her well.
The change for us takes time as well, but it begins as soon as we come into the care of our Master who loves us and leads us well.