By: Jana Greene
Ever feel like you are just too far gone?
For a long time before experiencing my current spiritual revival, I felt an awfully long way off from the Father.
I love the story of the prodigal son because I can relate to all three of the central characters.
I have been the prodigal child, returning to the father after making an absolute wreck of her life.
I have been the brother who did not think his father’s warm welcome of the long, lost brother was fair.
And as the mother of three teen and young-adult daughters, I have been the joyous parent when a rebellious child returns home that I would gladly kill the fatted calf (or at least make a trip to Costco for a porterhouse steak) for her welcome.
But the most poignant thing about the story is this:
“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. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then kill the fatted calf and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ Luke 15:20-24 (MSG)
While the son was still a long way off. The father did not stand on the porch, arms folded, waiting for his son to reach him.
So tonight – praying on my knees – I told God that I was sorry for wandering such a long way off (as I am want to do from time to time) and that I was feeling pretty lousy about the low-grade effort toward my faith walk. I’ve been giving it the old college try, but only half-heartedly, feeling like I’m slogging through a muddy rut.
But getting me out of muddy ruts is one of Abba’s specialties.
When I am truly a long way off – in the throes of addiction, depression, anxiety – and feeling ‘too far gone,” He simply cannot wait to hold me. And nothing is sweeter than the embrace of the Father.
When the air (and mud) clears, it is the supernatural, unexplainable, un-containable God, wildly in love with me. The God that is not content to be the vague and angry character we all learned about in Vacation Bible School as children, or the long-ago Messiah who turned a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish into a mass-meal. But the radical, revolutionary of love itself that I want to walk close enough to to be covered in the dust of his sandals.
“My beloved daughter,” he is saying. “You were given up for lost – if only by yourself ….and now you are found!”
And this radical, revolutionary Savior who sees me in various states of disrepair from a long way off, running toward me to pull me into a crazy embrace.
And I am 100%, all-in, too far gone in love with him to let go.