Finding God, or Being Found by Him?
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. ~ LUKE 15:20 (NIV)
We know it as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but in telling the story, Jesus’ focus was not the son but the father. It is a parable about a father’s love toward his lost son, a father who is ever looking with longing for his lost son to return. When the son is a long way off, the father runs to meet and embrace him and to receive him with tender love and forgiveness.
In reality, Jesus is telling this story about God’s love for us, how we are the lost ones, and how God has taken the initiative to find us and to welcome us home.
In his book The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen writes: “For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of spiritual life — pray always, work for others, read the scriptures — and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.”
Nouwen goes on, “Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not ‘How am I to find God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be found by him?’ The question is not ‘How am I to know God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be known by God?’ And, finally, the question is not ‘How am I to love God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be loved by God?’ God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.”
As we move through the season of Lent, these are significant questions for us to ponder, for we must be mindful that it is always God who takes the initiative. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
Heavenly Father, help us to allow ourselves to be found by you, to be known by you, and to be loved by you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
PASTOR GARY TURK, RETIRED,