Jesus once told a story about a man and his two sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance early, leaves home with it, loses it and finds himself destitute in a foreign land amidst a famine. He decides to try to return home and beg for forgiveness, to be taken back into the household as a hired worker (Luke 15:11-32).
It’s the story of the Prodigal Son.
Or is it the story of the Unforgiving Brother?
Or is it the story of the Radically Loving Father?
In truth, it’s wise to place ourselves in the shoes of each of them and consider what the story reveals about God, and where scripture holds a mirror up to us. But today, I want to lift up the astonishing grace we find in this story.
In a Father who grants the desire of the younger son for his portion of the inheritance – a request that was in essence saying “you’re not dying fast enough; I want my share now”.
In a Father who kept watch for the son who had rejected and abandoned the family.
In a Father who runs to meet the son as he returns, embracing him on the road, heedless of the disapproving looks from the neighbors.
In a Father who hardly waits for the son to finish his speech before restoring him to the family.
In a Father who is filled with joy and gladness at the return of the son.
And in a Father who also has compassion for the older son who also misunderstands.
Grace is the expression of God’s love that meets us as pure gift. Grace, gift, comes to us because of who God is, not who we are. The grace of God goes before us, before we were born, in the gift of this world in which we live, in the gift of choice. We encounter grace in the stubborn love God has for us even when we reject him, when we set out on dark roads. Like a shepherd with a missing sheep, like a woman who has lost a coin, God pursues us, calls us, seeks for us, and invites us home. God rejoices when we are found, rejoices over our restoration.
For the prodigal and the elder sibling in each of us – may the love of God call us home, may the joy of God over us fill our lives, and may the grace of God shape our journey.
Blessings on the way,