"My son," the father said, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours."
~ Luke 15:31
Henri Nouwen in his book, "The Return of the Prodigal Son" writes, "I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found."
So often in the world today we confuse love for many other things. The Rembrandt painting of the Prodigal Son returning home found in scripture left Henri Nouwen staring at the scene for hours on end.
The picture of a downtrodden, broken man, who returns to his father after spending all of his earthly wealth; the father welcoming, arms open wide, a gold ring once again on the man's hand, and who could forget the fatted calf, and his demise?
The picture is about unconditional love. It's about feelings hurt. It's about truth that so many of us face today.
I don't know a single soul who has not felt love, only to find it fade, or to have it taken away.
I think most of us can identify with loss. Or perhaps, even having precious things taken from us. This return is not just a son coming home, but he's brought a new and painful load of luggage. One that is filled with shame, embarrassment, and heartache.
And yet, the father looks beyond this and simply sees his son.
Have you ever wanted someone to love you so bad that you see beyond the shadows that the person casts, which provides a bigger picture? Our ability to hide such things often is the start of a new relationship, but yet, when the shadows give way to baggage, or yet, things that any of us might find uncomfortable or too painful, then we discover we might suddenly be too busy.
The truth of the matter is, that in all relationships, whether friend, lover, colleague, or even fellow bus rider, there is something in the lives of each of us that might cause others to move to a new seat!
Of course this story is about a family that is reconciling themselves to the fact that they're not perfect, and in the end, we don't truly know how things turned out. But for this moment, we get a glimpse of the unconditional love that this father, and our God, has for each of us.
In my life I have truly tried to love, or should I say like, most people I have met. Our ability to love one another says alot about how we love ourselves.
It doesn't take a monumental turn of events to practice kindness, or for that matter, unconditional love. It does however, make each of us take a closer look at ourselves, and to strive to turn an idea such as unconditional love, into something real.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.