Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Special thanks to Peggy Graff and her guests for providing this uplifting and inspiring addition to us in her Dog Days Duets series. I pray that these weekly selections will uplift your spirits and feed your soul as much as it does mine.
Luke 15:1-3 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable:
11 Then Jesus[a] said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with[b] the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father[d] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son should perhaps be called the Parable of the Prodigal Father. It is prodigal love and grace of the father in the parable that is the focus. Think about the definition of prodigal. It’s not just “spending money or resources freely and recklessly.” It also means “wastefully extravagant; having or giving something on a lavish scale.” The father in the parable, representing God, is wastefully extravagant in love and gives grace on a lavish scale.
So, here’s the good news in the parable: No matter how far away you have gone, you can come back. No matter how far out you have gone, you can come in. No matter how far down you have gone, you can come up. When you do, God will be waiting with open arms, for the door is always open.
There is also a word of challenge for us if we see ourselves as already home—if we see ourselves as faithful people who never left for the “far country.” The question is what kind of elder brother, what kind of elder sister, will you be? Who will we be for the one who comes home, for the one who is in the far country and needs to come home?
How would the parable have gone if the father had been away from the house that day and the elder brother had been the only person to greet the prodigal son when he returned home? Can you imagine that scene? “What are you doing here? You’ve wasted it all! You’ve squandered it all! Get out of here! You’re not welcome here!” It would be a much different story.
As I let my imagination go, I can imagine that there were times when the father said to the elder son, “Why don’t you go look for your brother?” and his response was, “Why should I do that? Whatever’s happening to him he deserves. He left here; he left all of this. He went into the far country. Why should I go looking after him?”
Jesus’ parable was also a challenge to the good religious folks who look at their brothers and our sisters in a far country, who are lost and find themselves saying something like, “Well, they deserve what they get” or “They made their bed; they can lie in it.”
The question for those who believe themselves to be the faithful who never left home is, Will you be standing alongside the Father with open arms?
Over the years, I have noticed that the great people of faith I have known—the ones who really inspired me—were not harsh, critical, judgmental people. No, the ones who touched my heart and inspired me so much were the ones who just seemed to become more and more loving with each passing day. They never acted “Holier-than-Thou.” They were grateful, tender, caring compassionate, merciful people. They were people who had received God’s Amazing Grace and who then spent their days passing that gracious spirit on to others.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster