Don’t you remember what happened when the Prodigal came home? I saw my son crawling over the hill, drenched in the stench of booze, stained by last night’s girl’s lipstick, caked in mud and grease. My ears could have rang with the soiled words he spoke against me so long ago. Give me my inheritance. I could have let the sting of rejection and rebellion burn in me. I could have let his sin outweigh his identity. But that’s not who I Am. Instead, I hiked up my cloak, sprinted until my lungs felt charred, and embraced the son I had been waiting for since I let him leave. And then I threw a party. Don’t you remember what happened when the Prodigal came home? I celebrated him with all that I had because I valued his presence in my home more than I could ever have been disappointed in his past. I welcomed him in because I could never be dissuaded by his sin. I restored him to honor because I loved him.
And what about my girl? The one they brought to me in the synagogue after catching her in bed with a man she wasn’t wed to? Don’t you remember what happened when they brought the woman caught in adultery to me? She was red-handed, barely clothed, stone ready. Nothing in her deserving of acquittal. But I knelt in the ground, drew the eyes of men away from her direction, and freed her with one sentence. Then I rose to look into her eyes. Neither do I condemn you. I freed the one most worthy of condemnation because I’m in the business of absurd grace. I gave her a new identity because I value second, third, millionth chances. I restored her to honor because I loved her.
And Peter. My friend who let fear cause his knees to buckle and the truth to depart from his lips. Don’t you remember what happened when my best friend betrayed me? I rose from the grave a few days later and went to find him first. I stood on the shore because I knew my best friend would throw himself into the water for me, full speed into my embrace. I cooked fish and loaves, watched the sun rise into its place in the morning sky, and I reminded Peter that he was not the sum of his failures. I reminded him that he loved me. And then I gave him the keys to my kingdom. Don’t you remember? I freed Peter from the burden of guilt because I prefer absurd freedom for my people. I established his new identity before he deserved it because I know what I’m capable of redeeming. I restored him to honor because I loved him.
And what about the murderous adulterer whom I trusted to be king? I loved him dearly. And the murderer whom I taught to write letters upon letters about My Son? What about the bedraggled tax-collectors that I shared meals with, the untrusting woman whose brother I saved, and the nervous-speaker who led my people out of captivity? Are you beginning to believe it? To see it? My love is so much greater than your sin. It’s the foundation of The Story!
I love you, I love you, I love you.
That alone is what makes a murderer an apostle, and adulterer a king, a prostitute a daughter, and a sailor a saint.
Finally, don’t you remember what happened when I created you? When I breathed my very image into your frame, knit you day by day until you were you? When I wrote and read the precious days of your life, and traced your name into my Book? Little one, I am not afraid of , angered by, surprised by, or disappointed in your sin, your failures, your pain, or your mess. I love you. I like you. I am especially fond of you. Yes, you! Look deep into The Story. I have been freeing people, redeeming people, and loving people into who they really are for a long time.
I’m not worried about you. I never was. I love you uniquely and tenderly and compassionately. I’m on your side. I will always restore you to honor, because I will never stop loving you. Kid, I can’t wait to see who you become.