We’re on a quest together during the Discovering the Bible Challenge to read the Bible looking for clues and messages from God. Our first mission is to recognize God’s majesty and grace. In today’s passage I see this coming through God’s love and compassion.
I have always loved this story that Jesus told to help illustrate God’s love and desire to be in relationship with us. We don’t have to be perfect to be loved by God. He loves us all, even those who go “missing.”
Today’s story comes right after Jesus shared his parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep. Imagine the “joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God!” We see this beautifully played out in our parable, too.
We may even recognize ourselves in the wayward son. How many times have we tried to make it on our own? How many times have we ventured out into the world without asking God first? I don’t ask this to make you feel guilty or anything like that. Rather, I hope you can feel God’s love oozing from this text.
What do we learn about God in this text? He gives us the freedom to “do our thing.” He doesn’t hold us back from trying things and exploring the world. That doesn’t mean that he likes what we often do when given that freedom, but he gives it nonetheless.
We also see a forgiving Father, ready with open arms to welcome us back when we come to our senses! “Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” There’s no guilt trip or shaming going on. We don’t have to worry about that. Instead, there is a celebration, a welcome we could never forget!
I remember when I felt stuck in an abusive first marriage. I felt enough guilt and shame about having made a bad choice that I was afraid to do anything to change it. I prayed and prayed for God to help me find a way out, to forgive me. This story was helpful to me in realizing God was loving me the whole time. He was especially thrilled when I left all of that behind and devoted my life to him again.
You don’t have to go through a “frying pan” moment or have a wayward experience to feel God’s love. His love is unconditionally there for you–just as it was for the son who stayed close. The father assured him that “everything I have is yours.” What an honor to be a child of God!
Take some time today to reflect on your relationship with God the Father. What are you struggling with? Are you feeling far from God, or are you relishing in the celebration of your salvation?
Do you ever feel bogged down with doubts, wondering how God could ever love you? Jesus told this story to help you accept the love and grace God so freely gives. The best place to start is to return to God and repent. Now, rest in His embrace!
Let’s pray. Father, thank you for loving me even when I felt far from you. You never gave up on me. I am overflowing with love. Help me to overcome my feelings of inadequacy for the mission you have given me. Fill me with your spirit so that I can help others find their way back to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.