Luke 15:15-24 (CEV)
15 He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. 16 He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing.
17 Finally, he came to his senses and said, “My father’s workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! 18 I will go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.’”
20 The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him.
21 The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.”
22 But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. 24 This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate.
Lost and Found … Part 3
Have you ever felt like you were past the point of no return?
Like what you had done or what you had become were beyond fixing?
I felt like our marriage was at that point a few years ago. With so many stressors in our lives, and so much grief, our ability to care for one another had pretty much dried up. We were still going through the motions, but we had walled off our emotions from each other (and ourselves) in an effort to cope, and all we could feel was the distance between us getting bigger and bigger.
Which then led to saying the words we never wanted to say at a decibel level we never wanted to use. To slamming the doors we never wanted to slam. To finding ways and reasons to avoid each other so that we didn’t have to feel the pain that had filled up the space that was always intended for love.
It felt impossible for a really long time – so long, in fact, that although I’d promised to do this for the rest of my life, I started to wish there was a way out.
Have you ever been at that point of no return with something or someone? Maybe with your partner? Maybe with a family member? Maybe with God?
That’s where this son is at. He asked for (took/stole) his inheritance from his dad, then took off with it and wasted it all. He blew half his family’s assets and has nothing to show for it.
In Jewish culture pigs are unclean – touching them, eating them or even being around them is just not something a Jewish person did because it meant that you couldn’t go to worship God or even spend time with the people you loved. And here he is, cut off from God, cut off from his family, far away from home, feeding slop to the pigs that are unclean and so hungry that he wishes he could eat the food that the pigs are eating. He doesn’t feel entitled to go back. He doesn’t feel clean enough to go back. He doesn’t think there’s any chance for him if he goes back. And yet it’s his only option.
And so he makes up his mind to turn around and go back to his father, humbly apologize and ask for a job as the lowest of servants in his father’s household. He knows he doesn’t deserve it. He just knows it’s his only chance at survival at this point.
So he goes. Covered in filth and rags. Smelly as all get out. Probably covered in lice or fleas or bites from vermin. Hungry to the point of starvation, he somehow makes his way back to his village.
How many people stared at him? How many mothers made their children go inside when they saw him coming? How many people recognized him as the son of the rich landowner?
“But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him.”
This was not the welcome this young man was expecting. He wasn’t expecting a loving embrace. He certainly wasn’t expecting a party. He was just hoping not to starve to death.
When Trevor and I started doing the hard work to repair our marriage, we weren’t expecting to fall back in love with each. We didn’t expect that we would be creating new hopes and dreams for the future. We were just hoping to find a way to survive, but God had much bigger plans in store for us and our relationship than we could have ever hoped or imagined!
But this Father that Jesus is telling us about – this God that so many of us are so scared of – he seems to have a different way of looking at things. He’s all about us returning. It’s like he’s sitting there on the front porch with his binoculars just waiting to see that speck on the horizon that will let him know we’re coming back and then he’s off, running through town with his robes flying wildly out behind him, his sandals kicked off in his hurry, uninterested in anything except being reunited with us as his children, and reuniting us back with each other.
This is what the Father has been waiting for since the moment the son took off – or maybe since even before that – and he can’t seem to wait to not only welcome us back but give us a new chance at abundant, joyful life!Journal Questions:
- Is there a relationship in your life that feels beyond fixing? Your relationship with your partner, a family member or God?
- What holds you back from returning?
- How does a story about a Father who can’t wait to embrace his son when he returns unclean and covered in mud and filth and bugs change how you feel about returning?
- Do you need someone to walk alongside you through this journey? Please contact us at [email protected] or connect with me (Heather) to talk more.