For All Prodigal Sons and Daughters
I didn’t get to say what I really wanted to say to you, what I wished later that I had said.
In my defense, it was early in the morning. I’m not eloquent early in the morning.
Okay, so it was 8:00 a.m. Not “early.” But still, I’d just woken up, and my brain was fuzzy. I’d gotten into the habit of sleeping late — just one of many faux self-care habits I picked up during the Covid quarantine — so eight o’clock felt like the crack of dawn that day. That’s why I didn’t have the words on hand then, that I do now.
You were telling me about the time you’d spent wandering away from God, that you’d been a prodigal, that now you’ve returned but still sometimes you’re afraid you’ve crossed that line beyond which all hope is lost. Well. I know you know this, but here’s the thing: Remember the father. Recall how, when the prodigal son came home, his father didn’t scold him or give him the cold shoulder. He ran to him and embraced him. And then he proceeded to throw him a celebration.
That’s how your Father feels about you. Can you see it? If you can’t, then let me describe it to you, because I can see it right now, plain as day: He’s running toward you to welcome you with open arms. He’s grinning, ecstatic! He’s even more excited about you coming home than you are. He has all kinds of great things in store for you that He can’t wait to show you.
If that’s not enough, here’s another one: You might remember what happened between Peter and Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was after Jesus’ resurrection. After Peter had denied Him three times. Not only did Jesus restore him as a faithful disciple, but He gave him a do-over, so to speak: You denied me three times, so I’ll give you the chance to tell me you love me… three times. Peter was offered success at the very point of his failure.
I wish for exactly the same sort of opportunity for you — and to be honest, I wish it for myself, too. I face similar struggles, similar doubts, similar fears. I cling tenaciously to the hope that somehow, some way, God will make up for the time we’ve wasted. That some great, beautiful thing will spring forth from paths we should never have gone down.
I told you that God loves you, that He always accepts you, that He can fix all your mistakes. I hope you felt that. It’s true. I wish I would have said more — for my own benefit, if not for yours, because I needed to hear it. I needed to say it out loud for myself. Sometimes truth doesn’t become real to us until we speak it. I took the chance that day, and I’m taking it again now, to remind us both of what I know.
He is making all things new, just like He said. Even — or perhaps especially — you and me.