Monday, March 21

Luke 15:11-32
“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 his property between them.

“Not long after that the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that county, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“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.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

A number of years ago, when we just had three young sons (now we have four not-so-young-sons!), I had all three with me on a trip to the mall. I was pushing the youngest in a stroller while the older two walked along with me. As I recall, we walked into a particular store – I think it was a sporting goods store – and I started looking at some stuff. I don’t remember it being a long time – but when I went to gather the boys to leave the store I only had two when I should have had three! The middle son was missing. Assuming he had just wandered into another aisle in the sporting goods store, I took the boys I still had with me on a quick tour of the store. No luck. Then I figured that maybe he had wandered out into the mall concourse looking for a place to sit down so we left the store and checked out the benches in the concourse. No son there either. Now, if you are a parent, you know that right about that time my heart started to beat a little faster and I had to try to keep scary thoughts from running through my head. I’ve seen the crime shows on T.V. and read the stories in the newspaper and while I knew my 4 year old was probably just lost in a different store – I started to feel very anxious. So I started to move faster – my strategy was to move from store to store until I found my son. Remember, I was still pushing a stroller and dragging a six year old by the hand – but I didn’t care how funny it looked to other people because my son was lost and possibly in danger. Fortunately, just as I reached the second store a kind security guard emerged holding my son by the hand. “This your son?” he asked with a smile on his face, and, just like that, my search was over.

But the truth is, had that security guard not found my son, I would have raced through every last store in that mall complex, I would have checked every food court, every bathroom, every movie theatre – and tipped over every rack of clothes if I had to – and I would have done so for two reasons. My son was lost; and I love my son!

The father in Jesus’ story has a son who is lost in the far country. The father does not go out after his son – because he knows the son has to figure out for himself that he is lost – but nonetheless he searches for his son in his own way. Notice that Jesus says that the father sees the son while he is “still a long way off.” That tells us the father has been waiting and watching every day for his son to come home. And when he sees him, Jesus says he runs to meet him. This doesn’t seem unusual to us in our culture – but in that day it was seen as unseemly or embarrassing for a man the father’s age to be seen running. It would have meant to hike up his robe, expose his legs, and look, well, like a fool. But this father doesn’t care what it looks like to others – his son was lost and has come home – and his love for his son compels him to run down the driveway – bare knees and all - to meet him!

Jesus is telling us that God feels like that about each one of us – about you! His love is so great that he is not only willing to receive us again as his children when we repent, turn around and come home – but he is also willing to humble himself and come running down the driveway to meet us when we do!

May you feel the embrace and sense the joy of your heavenly Father as he rejoices over you!

Brian Coffey

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