by Paul Selden
Throughout life, we’ve all had our fair share of mistakes: not studying for a test, forgetting a family member’s birthday, saying something hurtful to a friend, or simply falling into temptation over and over again. Some of these more critical mistakes are considered sin, or separation from God. Jesus tells us a story about sin, the Parable of the Lost Son, or the Prodigal Son. If you are not familiar, a son asks for his share of the inheritance from his father and sets out to a distant country and lost all his money in “wild living” and as a result eventually becomes a lowly and starving farmhand feeding pigs (an animal considered most unclean) and soon even stoops to eat their chum. In this moment, the son realizes that even his father’s servants were treated better and shamefully comes back home. Though he humbles himself before the father in shame, his father responds differently, rejoicing in his return and throwing a banquet in honor of his return.
We are all the prodigal, straying from the love of God in pursuit of easier and quick satisfaction. We think we can do it on our own, but that simply is not the case. Finally, in these moments, we fear that we have wondered too far, fallen too low, and grown too distant to God. But God is the father in this story. He lets us have freedom. He loves us no matter what. He rejoices in our return. Frequently we live in shame of our sin, scared of turning to God, scared of admitting our weakness, scared of giving ourselves up to God’s will once more. Once we finally do, everything changes as a result: God celebrates our return to him and we are receptive to his grace once more. It doesn’t matter where you are or where you have been, what you do or have done, what is lost can always be found, God is constantly loving and hoping for our return. We just have to run to his open arms.