by Peggy Harris W.A.S.H. Board Chair
"...let us celebrate with a feast."
Luke 15:23 Good News Bible
Most people celebrate a child's accomplishments, honor student, graduation, promotion, marriage, etc. We do not celebrate our failures as parents! When a child goes away and ends up in a jam, loving parents will help their child, even restore the child but celebrate with a party?
God does! This astonishing God is not afraid to throw a big party when one of His lost children come home. He is not afraid His reputation may be questioned while recovering a failure to Himself. He did not follow His wayward child but gave all that the child asked and let him go. He did not give up hoping, longing, looking for that child's return. Then one glorious day as the Father looks over the Universe, He sees the child coming home!
This child left home because he thought his Father was too strict and too stern. He believed in his own twisted concept that he was not loved. Finally he could not bear living in this household anymore and longed for the life he thought was "out there" a long ways from home.
He experienced the "out there" for a time, and finally discovered that everything he had taken with him was gone and he was reduced to begging. Finally he wrangled a job, pitiful though it was and found himself reduced to eating garbage. He had now reached the lowest point of his life, and even wondered if life was worth living. There flickered a small, dim hope that maybe he could go home.
Now, Father did not seem so strict and stern. In fact Father's home seemed like a good place to be. Still not realizing the great love of his Father he thought to himself that if he went home, asked for a job as a servant maybe, just maybe Father would accept him back on that basis.So he headed home, not as a son, no that could never be! As he traveled the dusty road, walking, there was no glorious hot rod chariot to bring him home as he had left, just his two weak legs.
Father, who waited daily at the gate looking for His child's return, just as if there was nothing else to do in the great universe, finally saw a speck in the distance. It was His child, returning home! Running to meet him Father threw His own robe over the garbage decked rags that barely covered this child.
Then comes the party! Nothing is too good to be spared from celebrating this return. There is only one sour note and that is the older brother. The other child who had stayed home, faithfully done his work for Father, he could not understand why all this fuss over his wayward brother. This surely was not something to celebrate! The kid had received all the benefits of being a faithful member of the household, left the sanctuary of home, wasted it all and then finally dragged himself home. Celebrate! Never! So thought the older brother. It's not fair! It's unreasonable! It's downright degrading to flaunt this failure of a kid to the whole neighborhood, let alone the whole universe!
Yes, there is a difference in the way God celebrates the return of one lost child. Thank God for that!