Read Luke 15:11-24
Have you ever considered how fun it will be when we have the opportunity to become acquainted with those whose stories we have read in the Bible? Will Daniel tell about God’s faithfulness to him during the night that he spent in the company of the lions, Daniel 6:16-22? Will Moses discuss the holiness of God that He came to understand when he was not permitted to enter the land of promise because of his failure to represent the Lord appropriately, Numbers 20:8-13? Will Esther tell us about those days when she and her maids fasted, prior to the day she approached the king unbidden, Esther 4:9-17? And how about those the Lord has used throughout the centuries to boldly share His offer of Redemption like Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael and Corrie Ten Boom. What might we learn about the wonders of God’s grace, over a cup of coffee with any of them? Okay, I can’t be certain there is coffee in heaven, but I can’t imagine why such an earthly delight might not be there.
There is one mentioned in the Bible who I can never meet; yet, oh how I can identify with him. He is the prodigal Jesus spoke about in the parable in Luke 15, and today I was reminded that I have something very important in common with this one whose description Jesus gave us. Let’s look a bit at the Master’s words to see how similar we all truly are. Most everyone knows this story Jesus gave us, how a son demanded his inheritance early, wasted it and then ended up in want, feeding swine. What touched my heart today, as I read the words again, was the fact that he “longed” to fill himself with the meager food that the pigs were getting. The pods of the carob tree. His need was great, but what he longed for was not meant to sustain him. Yet, good came out of his privation. The story goes on to tell us that these longings reminded him of all that his father had. There was provision back in his father’s house. He knew there was something so much better than the lack he was suffering. Those who have unmet longings like the prodigal experienced, are all around us. He may be wearing a beautiful suit. She may be homeless. He might sell drugs or she may be a mom working hard each day. Each one has longings, expressed in myriads of ways. Some are always primed for a party. Some seem to be looking only for a fight. Others work hard to please, and some cut themselves. Unmet and often unnamed longings are everywhere. Some are like the prodigal described in Luke 15:11-24. They have some understanding of the love of the Father, but others have never been introduced to Him. They haven’t heard of His love for them. Their picture of Him may be nonexistent or distorted and ugly. This parable is our reminder of the precious message we have to share. The Father waits with open arms to receive those who will turn their lives over to Him for forgiveness and guidance. He longs to be gracious, Isaiah 30:15-18.
I needed to know about the Father too. I was a young woman who didn’t know Jesus’ personal love for me and longed to experience His favor, even though I didn’t know what that would look like or how I could ever hope to experience it. I longed to be filled with the pods of being accepted by people and fitting in as much as possible. A recipe for emptiness since being accepted by imperfect people always leaves us longing for more. Oh, how I needed to know that the One Who made the world knew me and wanted me to be His daughter. Oh, how good it is for me to remember those longings and how the Father made His love known to me. When I remember the emptiness of scrounging for the pods, my heart stays tender toward others, no matter how their longings are expressed. They simply need to know the One Who wants their longings to be stepping stones to the knowledge of His unmerited love, Ephesians 2:8-9.
Lord, help us to never forget those times when we longed for what we often couldn’t even name. Help us to be ready to speak about the Hope we have with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15, always remembering the love You have lavished upon us, Titus 3:1-7.