Saturday, March 22, 2014

Again Have Compassion on Us

Who is a God like you, who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; who does not persist in anger forever, but instead delights in mercy, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our iniquities?  You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.  Micah 7:18-19

So he got up and went back to his father.  While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.  He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.  Luke 15:20

"Prodigal Son's Prayer" by Dierks Bentley
Father meet me with your arms wide open
The world's done broken your prodigal son
Down the road I traveled
Everything raveled only came undone

Father lead me down to the river
Wash me in the water 'til I'm whiter than snow
I know I'm not worthy
But tell me there's mercy for the wanderin' soul

I lost my way but now I'm on my knees
If it's not too late won't you tell me please
You gotta place for me
A little grace for me

Father meet me in the cool green valley
In all of your glory when my days are done
Name me as one of your chosen
Heaven's unbroken prodigal son

Father meet me with your arms wide open
Lead me down to the river
Meet me in the cool green valley

Name me one of your chosen
Heaven's unbroken prodigal son

This unique story – for it only appears in Luke and not in the other synoptic Gospels – gives us a prime opportunity to reflect on our wastefully extravagant ways.  How do we spend money or resources freely and recklessly?  Because we have three examples of wastefulness or extravagance in this story.  Most would easily say the first son is clearly wasteful.  So is his brother.  Finally, so is the Father extravagant with his love and forgiveness. 
First, the Father gave up one-third of his property right now and gave it to the younger son.  The father gives up what is rightfully his property and allows the son to misuse it.  Why?  Perhaps out of respect for the freedom that he has given us.

Then, despite the son squandering his inheritance, upon return of the lost son, the father commanded his servants to put a new ring on his finger as a sign of unity and the finest robe on his shoulders as a sign of kinship.  He also put on new sandals on his feet – an article of clothing that have held special meaning in Scripture since John the Baptizer told us he was not worthy to tie the sandal on the Lord’s feet.  Yet here is the Father putting sandals on his wayward son.

Finally, the other son was wasteful as well – taking for granted the love and gifts that his father offered. We can only hope that after the banquet, the family began healing together just like the first son.

What is astonishing in this story is NOT the actions of either brother.  But the generosity of the Father to his children shows through at every turn.  So, after the passage in Micah, it just seems to me that the core of this story is in verse 20.  The wayward son turns back expecting to be treated like a servant.  The extravagant father comes running to greet him.  How can it be any other way when we turn from our sins?

How do you picture the parable of the prodigal people playing out in your life?  “Tell me there's mercy for the wanderin' soul.”

Do you waste the precious gifts that you have been given?  Instead, how can you be extravagant with your resources to the benefit of others – like the Father in this story?  Because again and again and again, the Father has compassion on us no matter how wasteful we are. 

No comments: