Sunday of the Prodigal Son

There are days when you think about what you could’ve done, what you should’ve done, the chances you missed, and how everything got so messy so quickly.  That’s shame for you.

I’m not speaking about the kind of shame people put on you to manipulate, coerce, or control. There’s a different kind, the real stuff that comes from somewhere deep inside and you own it because you made it happen and there’s no one else to blame but the person you see in the mirror every morning.

It’s the shame of hungover Sunday mornings, miscellaneous flings, bad choices made in the heat of the moment, words that just came flying out of your mouth and stuff you thought was so right until the moment it blew up in your face. Some of it was the foolishness of youth, some, perhaps, was force of habit, a fair amount was just being dumb, and perhaps a little bit was being a rare combination of stubborn and arrogant right before the whole thing went south.

And when it hits it hits like a double shot of pain and regret with an embarrassment chaser. Now what? Is there a way out? Can this whole pile of junk be fixed? What am I going to do?

Come on home.

It’s true, God knows you’ve made a mess of things, so have I. God knows you stepped in it big time and there might be consequences. God knows you’re embarrassed and perhaps a little bit angry and overwhelmed. God knows every bridge you’ve burned, every heart you’ve broken (including your own) and everything you no wish you hadn’t done even if it was all done on the downlow. You, and I, we’re open books to God and every game we think we could play with others doesn’t work with Him.

Still, come on home.

You see while you and I were out there just inventing stupid and sinful things to do and be He was waiting in the distance for the moment we’d come to our senses. When we were playing our games and working our hustle God’s heart was still with us. When we were degrading ourselves with sin and idiocies of our own design, He never shook his head and walked away. As we were, in our own ways, wasting everything we had on just one more hit on the world’s dirty glass pipe He was keeping a room ready for our return. 

So, just come on home.

It’s okay if you feel bad about it all because that means you’re coming to your senses. When you start to realize your clothes smell of pig and none of your good time friends care about you after the money is gone it’s a sign that the good inside of you hasn’t completely been killed. Realizing you’re hungry is the first step in being filled with good things and the emptiness inside is the very space that God will fill with every step you take on the road back.

Get up and come on home.

Because the God you ran away from, the God you may have cursed to His face has never given up on you. Every day while you were away, every moment you were gone, He was waiting for the first glimpse of you on the road, and, seeing you He began to run, not away but towards you with a welcome like you’d never left in the first place. Maybe you didn’t want Him as a Father, but He never stopped wanting you as a son.

Please, come on home. 

If you’ve been away from God for a while. If your love has grown cold. If you’re bitter or angry or unforgiving or you’re just so tired let this Lent be your road back. If life has roughed you up a bit, and who hasn’t that happened to, let these holy days ahead be holy oil on open wounds. If everything seems so uncertain and frightening we have beautiful weeks in front of us where you can come, take on His yoke, and find rest.

And if you’ve sinned, and who among us hasn’t, and the weight of it, the shame of it, and the remorse of it has gotten a hold of you, drop your embarrassment, lose the false pride, turn, and walk back to God. God already knows who you are, where you’ve been, and what company you’ve kept and none of it is so bad, so dark, or so monumental that his love is powerless before it. In our Orthodox churches we venerate the icons of people who’ve been and done worse than you can imagine but found, even in their darkness, the Light which has never been overcome. You, and we, can find it to.

Just come on home.