I have always loved this parable out of Luke 15:11-32. Not because of the son – because of the father. Those of you not familiar with this story, go read it! Those of you who are, read it anyways 🙂 This son tells his father that he wants his inheritance now so he can run off and live the high life. He squanders his wealth on gifts for his friends, prostitutes, and all manner of “fleshly” desires. He finally runs out of money and is so ashamed of his actions that he would rather feed pigs and eat the slop of the pigs than return home and face his father. Just so you know the depth that the son was willing to go to hide his shame from his father, let me give you some background on the Jewish culture: to feed pigs meant you were ritually unclean and could not enter the temple of God – the presence of God. To feed pigs, especially to eat with the pigs, meant you were unworthy and defiled in the most intimate way possible. This son was willing to give up any semblance of purity in the Jewish Law just so he didn’t have to face his father and the disappointment, the shame he would encounter upon his disgraceful return. Aren’t we all like that? How long it took me to return to God’s loving arms after I left Him for worldly pleasures. I thought I was missing out on life and life with God made me vulnerable in ways that I could no longer handle. I tried every pleasure the world offered and found myself eating with the pigs, nothing but muddy clothes and an unclean spirit left for my troubles. The prodigal son and I had much in common. However, in Luke 15:17, the son realizes that even the servants in his father’s household are treated better and eat better than he does and so decides to return as a servant. See, the son thought that he was so unclean that his father wouldn’t accept him any longer as a son, but hoped that he would be accepted as a household servant. Aren’t we all like this? We believe the filth in which we have coated ourselves is too much for the forgiveness that we so desperately hope for. We long to be welcomed home by the only one who can rid us of our filth and feed us something more than the slop of the world, but we believe that we are no longer worthy of such high esteem and honor. We are no longer worthy of the love and forgiveness we so desperately crave. It took me so long to understand the free gift of God’s love. So many wasted years believing that I could worship this God that I was no longer worthy of – that He could not possibly love me any longer, so I would simply try to be His servant in hopes for His leftover scraps. Just like the story in Luke however, God is like the prodigal’s father – every moment of the day, He is searching for us, every day he is watching for the moment when He could see us a long way off. Every day he longs for our return. Beloved, simply turn to seek His face and, like the prodigal’s father, He will RUN to you; He will throw his arms around you and rejoice, saying, “Let us eat and celebrate! For this, my child, was dead and is alive again; my child was lost and has now been found!” There is no sin that God cannot wipe from your garments. There is no food of this world that is too unclean for God to purify. You are an heir to the throne of God and He is waiting to crown you as His child. He is simply waiting, ready to throw a party upon your return. Come! He has spread the table and is waiting your presence. Come! He has so much love and joy and peace that He is waiting to give to you; you do not have to be a servant waiting for leftovers any longer – take your rightful place as heir to the throne of God and partake of the feast that only He can give.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Be blessed tonight, Beloved One. Open your heart to the one who will never break it. In His Gracious and Holy name, Amen and Amen.