Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What I'm Learning about God's Grace from Reading the Parable of the Lost Son

As I have expressed in other occasions, like a good Teacher, God teaches us through well-prepared and cohesive lesson plans. Over the last few weeks I have seen a thematic lesson developing on the topic of Grace. Starting with a delightful evening with friends having pizza and popcorn at home while watching the movie The War Room, thoughts about the amazing reality (pun totally intended) of God’s Grace has been circling my mind and soul.

After that, and inspired by the fact that I finally began reading the book What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey, topped by a really intense sermon on the parable of the Lost Son with emphasis on the Father’s grace, I have decided to write a short series on my own meditations on Grace to lead me into Easter.

Since the Parable of the Lost Son speaks volumes to this effect and also to me in a rather personal manner, I will also use this magnificent piece of Scripture as the basis for my exploration of that unthinkable and unexplainable mystery called God’s Grace.

Let me start by saying how the Lost Son is the culmination of a three-part-parable in Luke Chapter 15th. The series includes the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son. In this series, Jesus illustrates God’s grace with stories that reflect a recurrent paradigm: lost-found-celebration. Something/someone is lost, then it is found and at the end there is a big celebration. In all three stories, God is the person who loses something extremely valuable, then He sets out to find it/him/her and when it is found, He rejoices and celebrates!

I’d like to take a closer look at each of the stages of this formula. Today I’d like to start by focusing on the lost. After all, I am the queen of getting lost.

As it happens, I am directionally challenged. I can get lost in my own house. At work, I rarely take the elevator because often times, when the door opens, I have no clue if I have to go left or right to find my destination. One time I took it because I was carrying bricks of paper in my hands from my basement classroom to my office on the first floor and inadvertently I guess, I pressed #2 rather than #1. So when the door opened, and I stepped outside, a colleague had to give me step-by-step instructions on how to get back to my office…I’m exaggerating a bit here, but I was, indeed, completely lost when I stepped out of that elevator and my colleague did have to tell me: “get back to the elevator and press 1 because you are on the second floor now.”

I’m the one who has to leave the house ½ hour earlier to allow time to get lost and found and still be on time when going somewhere new or not so new. GPS has been a great invention for me, except for when it is wrong…I have no idea how to figure out the right way so I just keep listening to it and I keep getting more and more lost…until I finally have to revert to my foolproof, old fashion GPS…my husband Dan…who has always been able to figure out not only where I am, but how to get me where I need to be from wherever he is at.

I get this heightened sense of direction from my Father. I am so much like him that it’s scary. I remember the last time he came to visit us we were living in a tiny house which had a basement entrance connected to the garage. It was a left turn at the bottom of the steps to go to the garage. Every time my Dad went downstairs to leave, he’d turn to the right instead.

I remember growing up, we’d get in the car to go somewhere, my Dad would get lost. We were lucky that my Mom was blessed with a keen sense of orientation so she’ll get us back on track every time. But it was both, really funny and REALLY scary because my Dad’s temper did not allow for detours. So every time he’d get lost, he’d also get really mad. My Mom would then, in her very gentle ways, re-direct, or I should say, recalibrate and diffuse the situation. Eventually, my Dad mellowed a bit and learned to make fun of himself by saying something like: “we are getting to know new places” as code for, “I have no clue where we are at, Thelma, you are on!”

Anyway, all I’m trying to say is that I know what it feels like when you walk into what you think is one place only to realize it is not. I know the panic of being left behind. I know how being lost is not fun, but terrifying. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the lost son, and how what began as liberation, ended in slavery.

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