"The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'" Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
I will never forget the day of my senior prom.
Not because I had a handsome date that swept me off my feet as we danced the night away. Not because I was able to purchase the perfect dress I'd always dreamed of wearing. Not even because I went with a group of girlfriends who all decided to go stag and then had a blast doing "The Bump" on the dance floor together. (Hey, it was the '80s, and "The Bump" was all the rage!)
No, I remember the occasion vividly because it was the day I decorated the school gym, set up the food buffet and then went home to spend the evening with the cast from The Dukes of Hazzard as my only companions.
I was on the committee that hung streamers and set out vases of fresh flowers to make the evening magical. And because I worked at the restaurant chosen to cater the finger foods, I also carved a watermelon, filled it with fresh fruit and placed it - along with platters of cheese and crackers and other assorted hors d'oeuvres - for the excited attendees to enjoy.
But there would be no prom night for me. I hadn't been asked. My senior year of high school wasn't really a time of fun and friends. It was a year full of sorrow and rejection, of many nights spent home all alone, feeling left out and unloved.
In elementary and middle school I seemed to have little trouble finding friends to call my own. In fact, I was part of the popular crowd. But in the eighth grade, after repeating some gossip about a girl in my class, I lost a slew of friends. I was banished from the popular table at lunch - and forced to find a new group of friends.
This smaller group of friends sufficed throughout my first half of high school. But then, during the fall of my junior year, I turned my life over to Christ. This life-altering decision meant there were parties I would not attend and activities I simply had no interest in engaging in. My circle of friends grew smaller and smaller. My senior year, I even faced ridicule from some classmates for my newfound faith.
Thankfully, I got plugged into a church youth group. However, most of the kids there went to a different high school, so my days spent in class were often void of any real, meaningful friendships. Sure I had teammates on the cheerleading squad and project partners on the school newspaper staff. But close friends? They were nowhere to be found.
Mentally reliving this time brings back sadness, but it also reminds me that this was the exact life experience that catapulted me into the arms of Jesus. During my lonely times I read and re-read His Word - a book I just couldn't seem to get enough of.
I attended the adult Bible study at church and caught a vision for living a ministry-centered life. Although my personal friendships on earth were few and feeble, my relationship with my Creator in heaven grew immensely strong. God carefully cradled my crushed heart in His hands and tenderly rubbed the healing balm of His love deep into its wounds.
Today's key verse describes the deep love of God - unfailing, everlasting. His love is not dependent on our looks, our brains, our financial status or our social standing. He loves us. Now and forever. Completely and thoroughly. With no signs of stopping.
Prom flowers wither.
Cliques and schoolyard statuses soon go away.
But we will never be found lacking when it comes to a God who created us, is crazy in love with us and won't ever leave us out. If you have a trampled heart, soothe it with the comfort of this mind-blowing truth - God loves you forever and ever. The End.
Father, thank You for how You always welcome me and have never rejected me. Not only have You loved me in the past, but You will love me forever. I am blessed to know Your steadfast, perfect, unmatchable love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 25:16, "Turn to meand be gracious to me, for I am lonelyand afflicted." (NIV)
Isaiah 40:8, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever." (NIV)
If you've ever struggled with feeling left out or unloved, check out Lysa TerKeurst's newest book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely.
For a chance to win the book Uninvited, visit Karen Ehman's blog. She's giving away 3 copies!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think of a time in your life when you felt left out, lonely or unloved. How can the truths of today's key verse help you to look to God for companionship?
© 2016 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.