“How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Going?”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Well, how are your New Year’s resolutions coming along?
Oh? Sorry. I didn’t mean to touch a sore spot. I suppose nothing is a much sorer spot for humans than having to face the fact that we don’t measure up even to our own standards, much less to God’s. The spirit indeed is willing. We want to do better. Be better. But the flesh is ever so weak. Which is why I’m increasingly unimpressed with human resolutions and will power and more and more amazed by our Father’s power as we trust him and not ourselves.
We need to keep in mind who we are. We’re all prodigal sons and daughters.
Do you remember Christ’s story in Luke 15, the story of “The Prodigal Son”? Remember how that young fool demanded his inheritance, ran off from home, and partied it all away? This Jewish young man ended up slopping hogs (not a great job for anyone, but particularly loathsome for a “Jewish young man,”) and hungrily wishing he could eat what they ate. Remember how he “came to his senses” and decided to return to his father? Remember how all along the road he rehearsed his speech of contrition? Remember how he realized that he didn’t deserve to be accepted even as a slave much less as a son? Remember his joy as through sheer mercy and grace his father ran to meet him, embraced him, put a signet ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, and threw a party because the son that was lost was now found? Oh, yes, and remember the older son grinching about his father’s grace?
We are all prodigal sons and daughters. And never more in need of grace than at the times we grouch about the Father’s giving grace to others. The difficult part of our prodigal experience is the walk back to the Father as we realize that his grace is our last, and only, hope. The wonderful part is feeling the warmth of his embrace and realizing that his grace is not only all we have, it is all we need, and it is freely, deeply, willingly given.
It’s a costly gift, you know.
Once the Father had another Son who left home on an infinitely longer journey for a much holier reason. Old as the universe, that Son became young to see a world reborn. To give it life, to give it grace, he lay his life down.
To give prodigals like us the gift of grace cost the Father the blood of his firstborn Son. And now the most expensive gift of all, the one we could never possibly afford but the one, the only one, that will answer our need, is given for free. It’s ours if we trust the Father enough to accept it.
The only resolution that ultimately matters is the decision to trust the Father and accept his embrace.
Shhh. Not too loud now. Don’t tell the older son, but when God’s kids come home, there’s always a big party in heaven.
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Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.%%detect_both%%