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Friday, April 5, 2013

Life-Giving Stories – Two Lost Sons

            “All who wander are not lost.”  It is a great bumper sticker.  And it is how some push back on the Bible’s assertion that if you aren’t in relationship with Jesus, you are lost.  Many people don’t like to be seen as lost.  They say, “What do you mean I’m lost?  I’m not lost!  I’m doing exactly what I want, where I want, when I want and how I want.  I’m anything but lost!  LEAVE.  ME.  ALONE!”
            Lost-ness is about perspective, isn’t it?  If we see ourselves as independent, beholden to none, then wherever we choose to go and whatever we choose to do is just fine.  But if we see ourselves as loved by Another with a purpose for living and being greater than our personal appetites, that is another story.  It is, in fact, a story Jesus told.
            In the Gospel of Luke (chapter 15), he records three of Jesus’ stories about lost-ness.  Jesus clearly sees anyone who is not in right relationship with God as being lost.  Each of the stories emphasizes that to be lost is to not be where you belong – a sheep not with it’s flock, a coin not with the other coins, two sons not with their family.
            The story of the two lost sons is about rebellion, humility and a loving father.  The younger son expresses his rebellion against his father externally by dishonoring the family by demanding his inheritance, leaving the family and pursuing a life that is opposite to the father’s values.  The older son expresses his rebellion through bitterness for being good with no apparent reward and bitterness toward his father for showing compassion toward his brother when he crawls back like a whipped dog with his tail between his legs.  Both brothers have rejected the essence of the father and both need to repent – only one does in the story.
            It is hard to admit being lost.  Ask any wife who has gone on a road trip with her husband!
            Wife:  Do you know where you are going?
            Husband:  Of course I know where we are going!
            Wife:  This doesn’t look familiar or seem right.
            Husband:  I’m taking a short cut.
            Wife:  Maybe we should ask for directions.
            Husband:  I’m not lost!

            To admit we are not where we should be, that we are not living out our divine purpose requires humility.  We need to experience humiliation, which we fight to our very core.  But God is not making fun of us, he is not humiliating us.  God is waiting to receive us no matter where we have gone, what we have done, who we have been.
            I don’t like being humbled.  The older I get, the more prideful I realize I am.  But I also realize the only way to experience the life God intends is through humbly receiving God’s love, admitting my ways are not God’s ways and allowing him to take the lead.
            How about you?  Are you where you are supposed to be?  Have you discovered God’s divine purpose for your life and are living it out each day?  If not, you are – in the words of Jesus – lost.  How low will you go before you are humbled enough to return to God?  He is waiting to throw you a party.  I hope you come!

Peace and grace,

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