A soldier came upon a monk and asked him if a repentant man would be received by God. He was worried that God might reject him.
“Would you discard your coat if it were torn?” asked the monk.
“No,” said the man, perhaps at that moment grasping the garment. “I’d patch it and keep wearing it.”
“If you would take such care of your coat,” said the monk, “won’t God show even greater care for his own image, which you are?”
How often are we the soldier, sincere but afraid that God will reject us? When I first heard this story — adapted here from Pelagius the Deacon and John the Subdeacon, Sayings of the Fathers 21.30 — I thought about the fact that ours is the God who leaves the ninety-nine to find the one (Luke 15.3-5), who comes to seek and save the lost (Luke 19.10).
We are created in his image, as the monk said, and God’s work in Christ is to restore that image, damaged as it was in the fall.
We should take heart. God does not discard. He patches.