Lion and the prodigal

"Does that mean," asked Mack, "that all roads will lead to you?"

"Not at all," smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. "Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.” 

William Paul Young, The Shack

Canyonlands National Park, Utah, photo: Andy Bruner

Canyonlands National Park, Utah, photo: Andy Bruner

This weekend we watched the movie, Lion, on Amazon.

Lion is the based-on-real-life story of a little boy in India who's part of a loving family, gets lost, and can't find his way home.  He ends up on the streets, then in an orphanage, and finally is adopted by a couple in Australia.

As a young adult, he begins to search for his birth family, and with the help of Google Earth (God works in mysterious ways), finds his way home to his mother, still living in the same neighborhood he was lost from years before.

I was so grateful that I waited to watch this on Amazon rather than in theaters. I would not have been adequately prepared to deal with my catastrophic weeping in public.  It was a three-box-of-tissue event.

The young man in the story, when he finds his way home, is the same age as my sons.  My level of adoration for my children is a well-documented fact of life, and as I watched Lion, I was overwhelmed by the thought of losing a child.

And then the joy of finding that child again?

It was just too much to hold inside.

Utah wildflowers, photo: Andy Bruner

Utah wildflowers, photo: Andy Bruner

This story, though, the story of the lost son who gets found?  

It's been around for thousands of years.  Jesus told this story, and we call it The Prodigal Son.  We've read it, we've heard it.  But I think maybe we stop hearing it after a while.

It seems, I don't know, ordinary, that the Father leaps up and runs to his child.

Somehow Lion made it all so real to me again: the desperate sorrow of a child who's lost, the long search, and the infinite joy of home-coming.

I've been thinking about shame a lot lately, and how shame keeps us from true home-coming, from true healing, from the true abundant life we're meant to have.

In Jesus' story, the prodigal accepts the robe and the shoes and the ring and the party.  

How many of us, instead, refuse the Father's generosity?  

How many of us Yes-BUT the Love of God?

Yes, God loves me, BUT.

There's this sin I have to shake off before I'm really welcome at home.

Yes, God loves me, BUT.

If I don't keep doing everything just right, I've lost fellowship.

In the end, we make our BUT bigger than the Love of God. 

Our own unwillingness to release our shame horribly misjudges Love.

We are so consumed by our shame that we'll live, hungry and cold, in a ditch rather than enter the warmth and welcome of Home.

Maye we've heard the story so often that it doesn't seem possible, doesn't seem real, that Love could really embrace us just as we are.

Maybe we need to look again, and see what human love has to say about God's Love.

Imperfect though we are, we can't imagine turning away a lost child, for any reason.

And if we, in our imperfect love, know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we would go down any road to find our child, how much more would God do for us? (Luke 11:13)

I think we know the answer.

I think we know the truth.

Living in that truth requires that we release our shame and trust in Love instead.

We're not perfect, and Love never lets us go.  

It's as simple, and as complex, as that.

We stop making ourselves and our sin into the most important thing that ever was.

We accept that Love is the whole story: the beginning, the middle, and the end.

No more "yes-BUT."

Just YES.

Just YES, and welcome Home.

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