May 2024 – Chaplain Newsletter

God’s Unfailing Love is Only One Step Away

In life, it is very easy to find ourselves drifting away from God. Sometimes, without even realizing it, we can wind up far away from Him. Each small decision, each moment of distraction, can lead us a step further from the closeness we inherently desire with our Creator. Sometimes, it can feel as if we have wandered 10,000 steps away, burdened by the weight of our mistakes, doubts, and fears. It can feel like we’re so far away that there is no hope and no clear path back into His arms.

But here’s the beautiful truth: no matter how far we feel we’ve strayed, it only takes one step to return to God. God’s grace is not measured by the distance we’ve walked away but by the sincerity of our desire to come back. In Luke 15:20, we see this clearly in the parable of the prodigal son. 

Luke 15:20 – “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.

Despite his long journey away from home and his reckless living, the father saw him from a distance and ran to him, filled with compassion and ready to forgive and celebrate. 

This story is a powerful reminder that God is always waiting for us with open arms. His love is unconditional, His forgiveness boundless. All it takes is one step—one prayer, one moment of turning our hearts back towards Him—to be embraced by His mercy. From that, so much good can come. 

The story of John Newton is a real-life example of what it looks like to take that step toward God. John Newton was born in 1725 and lived a life far removed from faith and morality. As a young man, he was rebellious and lived recklessly. He joined the Royal Navy, but his disobedience led to harsh punishments and eventually desertion. Later, he became deeply involved in the slave trade, a profession that epitomized cruelty and inhumanity.

For many years, Newton’s life was marked by sin and a growing distance from any sense of spirituality. He was, in every sense, thousands of steps away from God. His heart was hardened by the brutal world he inhabited, and he saw little reason to change.

However, in 1748, a powerful storm hit the ship Newton was on, threatening to sink it. As the waves crashed and death seemed imminent, Newton found himself uttering a desperate prayer for God’s mercy. This moment was his single step back towards God. Miraculously, the ship and its crew survived the storm, and Newton was profoundly affected by this experience.

This turning point marked the beginning of Newton’s spiritual journey. He abandoned the slave trade and began to study theology. Eventually, he became a prominent Christian minister and hymn writer. His most famous hymn, “Amazing Grace,” reflects his deep gratitude for God’s forgiveness and mercy. The lyrics, “I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see,” capture the essence of his transformation.

Newton’s life story is a powerful testament to the idea that no matter how far we have strayed, it takes only one sincere step to return to God. His life, once marred by sin and cruelty, was redeemed by God’s grace, illustrating that it’s never too late to turn back and embrace His unfailing love.  It just takes a single step.

John Newton’s transformation serves as a profound reminder of the boundless grace and mercy available to us, no matter how far we feel we’ve strayed from God’s path.

When we feel lost or distant, we must remember that our Heavenly Father is a step away. We are never too far gone nor too lost. He is always ready to welcome us back, no matter how far we think we’ve gone. Taking that single step back to Him can transform our lives, filling us with His peace, love, and guidance.

Today, if you’re feeling far from God, don’t hesitate to take the crucial first step. Turn your heart to God and be confident in His unfailing love and grace.

– Chaplain Ryan Stemkoski


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