On Saturday night, my family and I traveled to Belleville, IL to watch the Youth Sing Praise performance of Rory Cooney and Jody Serey’s Lost and Found. Well, really we were there to watch our daughter Madeleine performing Godspell’s “Light of the World” as part of Youth Sing Praise Jr., but seeing Lost and Found was a nice bonus. :)
Lost and Found is a retelling of the Prodigal Son parable from the fifteenth chapter of Luke. In it, Jesus tells the story of a boy, the younger of two sons, who demands his inheritance from his father. He has grown tired of being part of the family and the responsibilities that go with it, and he wants out. He quickly finds, though, that there are many trappings that going along with having money, and he ends up broke and alone. He decides to return home and beg his father to take him on as a servant, knowing that he has already given up his rights as a son. When the son returns, the father runs out to embrace him, having been watching and waiting for him since he left home. The father calls for a great feast to celebrate the return of the son, which angers and frustrates this son’s older brother, the brother who, from the beginning, had obeyed and honored his father. The father explains to him that they ‘must celebrate and rejoice’, because this younger son was ‘dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ (Luke 15:32)
There are many lessons one can learn from this story, many characters to identify with. I know for me, I have been able to identify with all of them at one point or another.
This parable has a main focus, though: the father, or better yet, the Father, our Father. Jesus is trying to convince us how much the Father loves us. This point was portrayed so well during Saturday night’s performance. The father just sat outside, day after day, for a very long time, waiting and watching, hoping to see the son as he came up over the hill.
It’s an extraordinary part of the story. The Father was waiting with eager anticipation for a son who had all but declared that father dead to him. The audience Jesus shared this parable with would have known that once the younger son received his inheritance and left, life could have gone on as though that son never existed. The father would have been completely within his rights had he forever turned his back on that son. It’s a story that parallels the relationship we have with our heavenly Father. You see, God is God. God doesn’t need us. God created us out of love, though, and wants to give us every good thing. So often, however, we choose to let sin and darkness reign in us, shutting out God’s love and light. Yet, despite our failings, God never gives up on us. God is always there, ready to take us back. God leaves that choice to return, though, up to us. We’re never forced into a relationship with God, never forced to do good, never forced to even acknowledge God’s existence. God knows that love only works when it is freely chosen and freely shared. God also knows that love never fails, because God IS love and God never fails.
So, return to God. Right now. No matter what you’ve done, know that God loves you is watching and waiting for you to come up over that hill. Come home. Don’t wait any longer. Come home. All will be forgiven.