Recently I read the story of the Prodigal Son again. See Luke 15:11-32 if you want to refresh your memory. It's a classic - one of the best stories ever.
I've always loved this parable, yet this time I seemed to see so much more in it than every other time I read it. One son gets "lost" and is "found" in the end. The other son is "lost," and as of the end of the account is still quite sadly "lost."
I allowed myself a few minutes to think back over my life and recall various items I've lost. I'm sure I lost many more things than those that came to mind. However, the fact that I remembered these items is proof that in some sense they were valuable to me or to others.
Here is the list of the things I recall losing:
1. A small change purse on the train to Hershey Amusement Park. I was probably seven or eight at the time and traveling there with my best friend and her family.
2. My baby daughter's security bunny in a McDonald's. I speculate it fell on the floor and was put into the trash by someone. If you've ever had a child who needs that favorite blankie, or pacifier, or whatever it is, you know how devastating a loss like this can be.
3. My young son in a clothing store one day. Yes, he thought he was being so clever when he hid under a circular clothing rack in a department store. He didn't even make a peep until I became nearly hysterical.
4. My daughter's Cabbage Patch Big Wheels tricycle. Actually it was stolen, but she was heart-broken, unable to ride with her posse up and down the block after that.
5. My son's trumpet. He left it sit there at the bus stop when he got on the school bus. Thankfully it was recovered and returned to us.
6. My child's orthodontic retainer. (It went into the school cafeteria trash can when the lunch tray was dumped.)
7. My grandmother's diamond ring, which was to eventually be mine. An alzheimer's sufferer, she could've put it anywhere. Or flushed it. Or ate it.
8. An earring. The partner to it still sits in my jewelry box, many years later. Why do I still have it? I really liked those earrings.
9. Lots of hair after the birth of each of my four children. Seemed like I was increasingly losing more of myself.
10. Weight. I've always "found" it again later.
Some of these things are lost forever; some have been recovered and returned.
Thinking about the story of the Prodigal Son on a deeper level, I've come to realize that we tend to come and go. We, too, go lost, missing for periods of time. Sometimes we come back home.
There's an old saying, "I got to rock bottom, and then I realized there was a basement under that." I suppose there's several ways one can interpret the meaning of that statement. For one, things can always get worse. Or two, there's always a shelter, no matter how bad things get. There's always another way out. The Father is always waiting and searching for us. He wants us home with Him.
The prodigal (lost) son packed all he had, not just an overnight bag, and left for a distant country. His intention was to get far away and have a rip snorting' good time there. He hadn't really thought beyond that.
How many of us regularly travel to "a distant country?"
Just as that lost son did, we, too, squander our "wealth" there with wild living. That is, we dabble outside our relationship with Jesus in the wild living of worldly pleasures and pursuits that don't satisfy.
Are you "found?"
Are you home?
Let me assure you with all certainty, your Daddy wants you back.
Humbly repent, turn around, go back. Please.
There's a party waiting for you there. A grand celebration beyond the limits of your imagination is waiting for you.
And He's there. He's been anxiously waiting for you ever since you left.
He'll run to you on the path. Go to Him. Hurry.
There's no place like Home.