By Rev. Carrie Yoder
Memorial United Methodist Church / Children and Families
Fernandina Beach, Florida
First, read Luke 15:11-24
I used to work at JCPenney, a department store. One day I was minding my own business working at my cash register and I heard a heart-wrenching scream from nearby. Everyone in the store froze, and we heard a woman yelling, “My child, she is missing! Someone help!”
The store manager jumped right into action as well as those employees close by and many of the shoppers. The search began and all over the store was heard, “Sally, where are you?” “Sally, are you here?”
This continued on for what seemed like an eternity, but in retrospect was just a couple of minutes. Very soon the girl was found hiding in a rack of clothes. The mom ran to her daughter and scooped her up in a crushing embrace with tears streaming down her cheeks, “You were lost, but I found you!”
As I read the text for today’s devotion I cannot help but be transported back to that day. However, in our story the son is not missing, but chose to walk away, to turn his back on his family. Yet, when he returned the father greeted him with an overwhelmingly loving embrace — one that reminds me of that young mom who found her child hiding in a rack of clothes.
In that moment the father is not focused on the choice his son made, but instead he is focused on the love he feels for his child. He says, “We must celebrate with feasting because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!”
To be the son in that moment would be an awesome feeling. To know that despite the choices that were made to walk away you are still loved and accepted, and that in essence you were lost but now are found and rescued from your poor choices.
Many of us give this type of love to those we hold dear, our children, our spouses, our friends, and even our pets. We tell them and that they will always have a home with us. However, like the son, many of us have trouble accepting this love for ourselves or we believe that we don’t deserve it.
During this Lenten season, do not forget that God loves you unconditionally. As the father loved and accepted his son, so does God love and accept you unconditionally. Rest in the knowledge that when you feel lost God will always be there to help you find your way back home.
Prayer: Loving God, wrap in your arms of loving care today. Remind me that you consider me one of your children and that when I feel lost I can find my love in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
1. What does it feel like to lose something? How does it feel to then find that thing?
2. Who in your life do you love unconditionally?
3. Do you have trouble accepting unconditional love? If you do, how can you work through that?