I relate far more to the older brother than the younger one. As a child, I was indignant when my younger brother didn’t show gratitude and irritated when my little sister got away with actions and attitudes that I would never dare to express. I lived most of my childhood years as the perfect “older brother”; not squandering a thing. Yet something inside of me yearned to be accepted for who I really was. I knew my thoughts and the sinful attitudes that existed deep within my soul. On the outside I portrayed the pious older sibling; self-righteous, exhibiting a perfect exterior. But on the inside, I was crying out for love and acceptance, regardless of whether or not I “messed up”. It wasn’t that my parents had ever offered anything but love, yet somehow I felt a need to prove myself worthy. What would it have been like to be real? To honestly express my frustration and bitterness?

The younger brother didn’t hesitate. He lived it up, squandered all he had and then came groveling back home. He fully recognized his sin and had no expectation of regaining his right as an heir. He humbly presented himself before his father, requesting to be treated not as a son, but as a hired hand. In Luke 15:18-19 he says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” He named his sins, knowing his father’s loving character, but not knowing what life would look like moving forward. He must have felt an intense amount of freedom as he came to his father as he truly was; not as who he aspired to be, but as himself, in all of his brokenness and despair.

Repentance in our world does not always bring about acceptance, forgiveness, and restoration. But that is not the case with our Heavenly Father. Our confidence in honest repentance and seeking forgiveness is that the Father always welcomes us home. Oh, he doesn’t just leave the door unlocked, but he runs to us and pursues us in our brokenness because he longs to restore us to a whole and sweet relationship with him. Henri Nouwen says, “Receiving forgiveness requires a total willingness to let God be God and do all the healing, restoring, and renewing.” This forgiveness does not depend on us. Our Father is inviting us to come just as we are and he will run to us with open arms.

Lynette Fuson
Care & Counseling Director

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