Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided the property between them… [and] the younger son…set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living…
When he came to his senses, he said…I will…go back to my father and say…‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son…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…”
Luke 15: 11-13, 17-20 (NIV)
It’s a long verse but a short story. I suspect that Jesus was smiling as He told it—knowing the punch line that was coming. You have to admit He really had a way with parables—our Jesus. A way to make a point with His tone, expression and words that would last longer than that younger son’s inheritance.
And the central moment of this parable is a theme that is woven throughout the Old and New Testaments—from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Simply and clearly a poignant reminder of God’s continual presence in our lives and His never-ending love for us—no matter what pigpens we find ourselves wallowing in.
Maybe we can’t identify with that young son. Maybe some of you have never been there. Maybe you’ve never felt as low as that young man, with the filth caked on his clothes and pig slop staining the edges of his lips betraying where he had eaten his last meal.
Maybe you can’t identify with that story.
Maybe you’ve never fallen that low, failed at something in life, felt ashamed at something you’ve done, disappointed or hurt someone close. Maybe you’ve never stood with your knees shaking—afraid to move—facing something you were sure you couldn’t do. Maybe that bag of names and stereotypes which others have labeled you with never got too heavy to carry another step. Maybe you’ve never been at a place where you really didn’t want to wake up to another day. Maybe you’ve never been where that young man had been.
I suspect, though, that you’re breathing rarified air if you haven’t experienced any of those moments. The truth is that we’ve all felt the pain and sting from the roadblocks, detours, ruts and fallen trees we find along the roadways of our lives.
But the message of that story and the message woven throughout God’s Word to us is that through all of that—God is there, to love us unconditionally and lift us out of the pigpens in which we find ourselves, and into all the potential He has placed in our lives.
And the final proof of His love began when He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on that day we remember again this weekend as Palm Sunday, heading to the cross for you and for me. Then the empty tomb on Easter Sunday. For you and for me.
And with one eye on us, lifting us out of the muck and mire of our mistakes, hurts and failings with His love, He watches with the other to see if we are lifting up others. Will we tell someone that God loves them, and then not show that love ourselves? Will we see someone’s failings and mistakes, and yet not help them move forward into all the potential of their lives?
How about with our spouse, children, grandchildren and more? Do we model hope or despair to them in our own lives? Do we encourage them or yell at them? Do we paint a picture of all they can be, or stereotype them similar to what was done to us when we were their age…or is still being done to us? In those moments, do we lift them or label them?
The Father’s love is always there to embrace and redeem us from our fallings, failures and disappointments. It comes with a smile. And more than that, He is our example to do the same for others, to share His love with those who are often standing very close, right at the end of our elbows.
Just something to think about, as we head to Jerusalem with Him.
In His Name—Scott