What does it mean to have a God that never ceases to search for us? What does it mean to have a God who will spend every moment of everyday looking out for us, waiting for any sign, no matter how big or small for our safe return?
This is the story of the Prodigal Son and the nature of God.
This passage resonates with us because it is so familiar in so many ways. I mean, how many of us have lost something valuable? Remember the empty, sinking pit in your stomach at realizing that this precious item is gone! Remember the time you took to search diligently turning up papers, clothing, moving chairs in search for your precious item. Remember the absolute relief and satisfaction that comes with finding your belonging. But there are some things that are never found, at least, not in our life time.
The sense of losing something extends beyond keepsakes and family heirlooms. We can be lost spiritually too. Sure we come to church, may have done so our whole lives. We may have come through Sunday School, joined the youth group, attended a Bible Study, participated in Sunday Morning Worship and in any number of other ways - yet we may still hunger for something more. We may wonder what the whole point is? What is the big deal about church and faith and our relationship to God. Before we even realize it a hunger, a spiritual hunger develops within us. Soon, before we realize it, we find ourselves coming to church because “that’s what we do on a Sunday morning” or “we come because we want the kids to learn and inherit the values that church can provide.”
Before we realize it, we become lost, spiritually, where the passion and meaning of our Spiritual lives wains and becomes strained. We find ourselves coming to church not so much for the content of worship, but because we love the prelude and postlude or it is an opportunity to connect with our ‘church friends.’ Non of these are particularly wrong by any stretch. But I wonder if we are able to articulate how these deepen our Spiritual health and well being.
It is easy to be Spiritually lost. It happens to the best of us. That is why it is important to pay attention to those pieces and elements that help refresh and renew our connection and relationship with God and the Divine. Taking time for self care, rest, family and friendships all in their own way can feed and nurture our Spiritual hunger.
I am struck at how we don’t have the same emotional reaction, however, to being Spiritually lost than physically lost. When we are physically lost, or worse still, when we lose a child or grandchild even for a moment, there is nothing that can prepare us for that deep sinking feeling in our very being, where we develop tunnel vision and where the world stops until who is lost is found. We will spend every moment of everyday until we are found, our loved one is found. Even, God forbid, should they never be found and the worst of all possible tragedies occupy our thoughts as time goes on with no answers; we know that we will never stop looking. Every time the phone rings, a knock on the door, we will wonder if this is the phone call we have been waiting for. All manner of wrong, ill-feeling or harsh words are forgiven if they would just be on the other end of the phone or behind the door.
This is the nature of God. We have a God who is always waiting, looking through the window, searching every possible avenue and corner looking for us when we are lost. When we find ourselves becoming disillusioned, wondering what the point of all this really is, we have a God who stops at nothing until we are found again. When we are lost, and don’t know where to go or how to get back, our God is coming for us, and will never stop looking until we are finally found.
With a God like that, I wonder if we can ever really be lost. Perhaps, at the end of the day, no matter how far we may think we have strayed from God. No matter how lost we may be, God is there, just around the corner, ready with open arms to bring us home again, where the whole company of heaven rejoices at our return. Because we have a God, who will never cease searching until everyone, that means everyone, is home, safe in the warm embrace of God.