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by davesandel on March 23rd, 2019


Saturday, March 23, 2019

When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: “Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.“ But the father wasn’t listening. 

– From Luke 15

Instead, the father was summoning servants to kill the fatted calf. His son was home! Nothing mattered more than that. God cherishes his children more than any field, more than any pearl or diamond, more than anything in this whole wide world. That is the way of parents; this is what we learn from God our Father and Jesus his son.

Earlier in the story the son comes to his senses. “Finally, he returned to himself.” He was starving. He craved corncobs, for God’s sake. He had no more grapes, no more roasted meat, no more juicy olives. No woman would touch him now. All the wine was gone. Far away he heard laughter, and this especially made him weep.

The young man’s passion and pleasure withered without the smells and tastes, sights and sounds, the touch of all those wonderful Things. Now, caught in the general famine with his portable property gone and family resources far away, he worked hard for almost no reward.

In this son’s mind the father’s love took the form of food. Why not? His stomach cramped and shrank. He drank water, but that was not enough, and even exhausted, the young man couldn’t sleep. Lying flat down on the ground, he laid his head upon a stone and ran his fingers down the bones on the edges of his chest. Finally. Fall. Asleep. Nearly dead, he dreamed of food.

First in his dream perhaps, then in remembrance, he found the strength to stammer his few goodbyes and stumble down the road toward home.

I have been to far off countries. Getting home can take awhile, many days and many nights. I hitchhiked, this poor boy walked. We slept beside the road. I had bread and cheese, he did not. He walked slowly, starving, finding bits of food by begging. At night he dreamed again of home. Will my father show me crusts of mercy? Like a carrot dangling, hope brought him down the road another day.

Then there is the day of arrival. It’s not far now. He slowed down, he was scared. He didn’t want to face his dad. Just look at what he’d done! Insult and offense, ingratitude and indifference, he hadn’t cared. Perhaps his father too would never care again. Over and over these thoughts haunted him, but still his hot and blistered feet took him home.

Lord, you told us the rest of the story. You tell each of us, over and over. You get under my conscience and my shame and my denials, and there you draw me close. If it takes starvation, Lord, so be it. I’m sick and tired of holding my miserable unnecessary secrets tight to my miserable chest. You say you love me, and I believe you. I am stumbling home.

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