“For three days I have been meditating on the story of the prodigal son. It is a story about returning. I realize the importance of returning over and over again. My life drifts away from God. I have to return. My heart moves away from my first love. I have to return. My mind wanders to strange images. I have to return. Returning is a lifelong struggle.
It strikes me that the wayward son had rather selfish motivations. He said to himself, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father.” He didn’t return because of a renewed love for his father. No, he returned simply to survive. He had discovered that the way he ahad chosen was leading him to death. Returning to his father was a necessity for staying alive. He realized that he had sinned, but this realization came about because sin had brought him close to death.
I am moved by the fact that the father didn’t require any higher motivation. His love was so total and unconditional that he simply welcomed his son home.
This is a very encouraging thought. God does not require a pure heart before embracing us. Even if we return only because following our desires has failed to bring happiness, God will take us back. Even if we return because being a Christian brings us more peace than being a pagan, God will receive us. Even if we retune because our sins did not offer as much satisfaction as we had hoped, God will take us back. Even if we return because we could not make it on our own, God will receive us. God’s love does not require and explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to give us all we desire, just for being home.”
Henri Nouwen- The Road to Daybreak
I am so thankful for this nugget of truth. But it jolted me a bit. I found myself immediately defensive. Of late, I am traveling this road home, coming back to my first love. Learning to embrace new disciplines to soak in more of my Father and to spend more time with my Lord. Learning what it really means to not just sign my letters, but to truly be, in everything, HIS. Learning to return.
Reading Henri’s words, I have to ask myself , “Why?” What really is my motivation?
But then, in the long run does it matter? If in the returning, I draw nearer to Him; if in the returning, I surrender to Him; if in the returning, I learn to love again – does it matter why I started the journey home to begin with? These are things I have to mull over along the way. But, here and now, I am blessed by the words this man said- “God’s love does not require explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home…”