This is one of my favorite parables, and as I continue with the #LentChallenge, I'm still thinking about Luke 15 because, in various seasons, I have been the lost daughter and the jealous daughter. This is, in most Bibles, the parable of the lost son, but like the two parables in Luke 15 that precede it (the lost sheep and the lost coin), I feel this parable says far more about the Father's heart than that which was lost.
1) Sometimes our Father initiates the search for us, and sometimes, He is waiting for our return, but always, He meets us; always, He is filled with compassion.
This view of our Father--especially depending on how you view your earthly mother and father--is not normal, if normal is defined by earthly standards. A child who rebels, who is wasteful, who squanders, who avoids, who willfully and intentionally goes his own way: that, by any parenting standard, is cause for discipline and reproach.
The response we might expect is anger, silence, crossed arms, a tapping foot, and the words we fear most, "Son, I'm disappointed."
But not our Heavenly Father: "While he was still a great ways off, the father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."
Even when we are in the midst of bad choices, even when we are ashamed and self-loathing, even before we open our mouths to repent, our father sees, and has compassion, and runs to us, and falls on us, and kisses us.
I'm not downplaying sin, rebellion, or repentance, but too often, our worldly view gets crossed with our spiritual view, and we forget that it's the Lord's kindness, His mercy, His love, that leads us to repentance.
It's not our shame. It's not our unworthiness. It's not about how low must I get to be forgiven.
It's about Him, and His heart, and His compassion.
He meets us. He pursues us.
2) Even in our sin, He still desires to reaffirm us as sons and daughters, to confirm in us how HE sees us.
The jealous one--ever been her? When you're just serving and obeying and doing all that your Dad asks you to do, but yet someone else gets acknowledged, gets rewarded, gets that blessing you really feel you deserve?
What does the Father do? He pursues: "But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore, his father came out and pleaded with him."
Therefore. HIS father. His father CAME. His father came and PLEADED.
So much could be said about that one sentence. He didn't scold. He didn't tell him to grow up, to be self-less, to be mature, or to get over it.
He says, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours."
What an affirmation! What a declaration! What a promise!
He calls us by name; He calls us HIS, even in the midst of our jealous fit.
He offers the promise of His presence. We are with Him. He is with us.
He offers the promise of sufficiency. "All I have is yours." You have enough because I am enough.
Grace, that unmerited, unearned favor. Grace, that supernatural power and ability. Grace, His total and utter sufficiency accomplished in me by faith because of the finished work of the cross.
Because He is enough, I am enough in Him.
Because He is sufficient, I am lacking nothing in Him.
Our Father wants to know us, and more than that, He wants to be known by us: that we would really see His heart, not the reaction we expect to find, not expecting the punishment we deserve, but with opened eyes to see all that He's done, out of His great love and grace and mercy.
Jesus died. And God's wrath was satisfied. And the punishment for our sin was satisfied. It is finished.
And when we believe--when we put our faith in what the cross accomplished, the finished work of Jesus Christ--then we are not only transformed from death to life, from lost to found, but with unveiled eyes, we get to behold Him--to really see Him, our Heavenly Father.
He is all good. He is all grace.
He runs to us. He meets us. He pleads with us. And above all, He wants us to see ourselves how He sees us.
Daughter, I am with you. Daughter, you are mine. Daughter, you have enough. Daughter, you lack nothing.