family and forgiveness…

Today, family is on my mind.  I won’t go into all of the reasons, but needless to say it just is.  As I think of family and Scripture together, the passage that immediately pops into my mind is that of the Prodigal Son.

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’  So he divided his wealth between them.  And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.  Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.  So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.  But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!  I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’  So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;  and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;  for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.  And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’  But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.  But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;  but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.  But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”  Luke 15:11-32

A talk I once heard about these passages caused me to look at them in a way that I never had before.  Before, I had always looked at it either impartially trying to see all sides or from one of the character’s view and motivation.  Much can be said from all of these approaches to this Scripture.  But, this particular talk challenged us to look at it as a ‘whole’.

When looked at as a whole, the emphasis is on looking at the big picture — the message before, during, and after.  Looking at the ultimate ‘after’ message, one thing is certain.  This passage does not act like a crystal ball and give us all of the answers to human nature and what NOT to do in relationships with each other.  In fact, it is important to note that the passage does not end with a ‘happily-ever-after’ ending.  Even though forgiveness is the basis of the story, there is no guarantee that another issue didn’t blow up the next day.  The realities of human nature tell us that the one son was probably still a jerk and the other continued to be jealous,  feeling that life was totally unfair.

But, what it does tell us when looking at it this way, is that God’s love for me does NOT depend on me being good all of the time nor depend on me changing my behavior.  God loves me.  Period.  Even when I am acting selfish, arrogant, humble, proud, jealous, materialistic, disrespectful and oh so much more.  No matter what I do, God loves me and He is not waiting for me to love Him first.  Rather, due to God’s love, I WANT to change, to grow, and to become more like Him.  I want to do these things in response to His love.  NOT to earn it.  I realize how much God loves me and I want to love Him in return.

God’s love is concrete, not abstract.  It isn’t a thought that floats around out there that I sometimes catch a whiff of.  Instead it is the constant, ever-present reality of the blessings He has showered me with in this life.  My husband, my children, my extended families, my friends, my acquaintances.  Everybody and everything shows me the reality of the constant of God’s love………. IF I am willing to allow myself to see it.  IF I don’t allow the veils of pride, arrogance, selfishness, and anger blind me to the truth, I will see it.  With or without my glasses, it is there.  (Although, in some situations, bifocals can be very helpful LOL!)

Lord, may I always have the ability to take off my veils and blinders and to see all that You have blessed me with as the blessings that they are.  Even when they don’t look like a blessing to me.

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