“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20 (CEB)
Many of us talk about repentance during Lent. Some of us talk about it a lot. We speak of Lent as a time to “turn around” and come home to God.
Lent’s 40 days are also the perfect time, we say, to try out any number of spiritual disciplines. Daily prayer, for example. Weekly worship attendance. Prayerful reading of, ahem, Lenten devotions.
This is all well and good, but it can also imply that getting right with God is entirely up to us. We can portray new life as a self-help project that succeeds only when we’re appropriately contrite and sufficiently diligent.
But Jesus didn’t talk about it that way at all. According to Jesus, even when we’re coming home for all the wrong reasons, before we have repented, and while we’re still a long long way off, our parent God will come running to gather us up into those everlasting arms. And while we’re reciting our wooden repentance speech, God will be weeping with joy and orchestrating the grandest celebration we’ve ever seen.
Not because we arrived at the right combination of spiritual practices and guilt. Not because we promised to never leave home again. But because ever since we told God off and stormed out the door, She has been pacing the floor, turning the prayer wheel, and watching fervently for any glimpse of our world-weary heart.
For grace beyond comprehension, and that I will have plenty of time after the party to align my heart with yours, I give you thanks and praise.