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Archive for April 26th, 2018

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It is a tale as old as time, but without the Beauty or the Beast.

The one who walks away from all that they have, all that they know, all that is safe … for unknown places of possible dangers, heartbreaks and big mistakes. So much is out there that could go wrong, could destroy. Those who love them, who are left to stand on the sidelines, left with only prayer as their protection from the perils of choice. The greatest prayer being that they come back, returning to their home, family, faith.

Whether we are familiar with the lessons within the cover of the Bible, the common term for such a person who leaves what they have learned behind them and moves to unchartered territories, only to eventually return, is that of the prodigal.

We all have prodigals in our lives.

Though the famous biblical story is about a prodigal son, prodigals come in all ages, genders and backgrounds. Their lives are a vast array of how they live, or carry out, their prodigal stories.

The common scenario is that of the teen or young adult, walking away from the life they were born into. After they have tasted of all of the pleasures of humanity, recognize that those pleasures have left them hungry for something more filling, something more familiar. So, tail between their legs, then return to the safe haven from which they originally fled.

The story that Jesus told can be found in Luke 15:11-32.

The story tells of the son’s return (verses 20-24):

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

There was no waiting to hear why the son was returning home. There was no opportunity for apology, no words admitting his folly, there was no time for any words. The father did not run to meet him because he had rejected his poor choices, he ran to his son for he was his father … and he loved this son, simply because he was his.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”

Humility … that most difficult of characteristics to muster, for any creature of flesh. This is where we see the acknowledgement of error, fault, sin.

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

And then we have the only reply appropriate, when one acknowledges their wrong to the one who they most sinned against.

There is so much more to this story … an older son, inheritance lost and more. It is a story that I have not always appreciated, yet, the older I get, the more I see how this is a deeply personal story for me … for us all.

You see, from our very beginnings, God, the one who gave us life, also gave us choice. We were born into the richest of families, not rich in wealth, but rich in love. The inheritance he has amassed for us is endless eternity, in his presence. It is our birthright, not because of what we do or who we are, but because of who we are in him. Though it is rightfully ours, we must choose to accept it. Many (most) of us, consciously or not, at some point in our lives, take the shiny bits of our inheritance (the earthly blessings) and walk away from our good, good father …

… and he lets us go, because he desires that we choose him, rather than he tell us what to do, rather than he force us to stay with him. He wanted us to choose … him.

And so we go away from him, partying it up on the things of life that are … temporal, temporary. We find pleasure in our bodies, our senses, our forms of escapism. Until, one day, we recognize that our belly full of pleasures has left us malnourished, dying from the inside out.

And so we go home, tail between our legs, chin on our chests, ready to dish out heaping helpings of humble pie.

Then, when we are almost home, we hear something in the distance …

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Though those words were God’s pursuit of Israel, they have also become God’s words to all of humanity, through the blood of Jesus Christ.

And we are embraced and kissed and welcomed home.

And our tears of shame fall on our cheeks, our chests heaving with shock, with humility, with the acknowledgement that our father loves us, not because of what we have done,

but in spite of our actions.

We apologize, we beg forgiveness, humility pouring from every pore.

And the father … he doesn’t ask for the details of our misery … he plans a party … for,

in the father’s mind, in the father’s heart …

his son, his daughter was lost and is found.

“And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it,
still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending,
reckless love of God”
Cory Asbury

 

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