Yesterday, we talked about the fact that God is respectful of our choices – that If we choose to turn our back on Him and walk away, it breaks His heart, but He lets us go, and we saw how the Gospel of Mark illustrates that in the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Rich Young Man. Today, let’s explore that a little further, in Luke’s account of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
In that story, the father not only allows the son to leave him, he gives him half his money – seemingly without hesitation – even after he’d basically said he couldn’t wait for Dad to die. Then, when the son comes to his senses and returns home, the father celebrates that choice by throwing a party!
God is respectful of our free will, but He’s anything but indifferent about how we use it. When we choose to do God’s will, it’s cause for celebration, and I get the sense that our God likes to throw a bash whenever He can.
But there’s no cause for celebration if we don’t really have a choice, or if we’re coerced or talked into returning home.
So He respects our choices, even when they’re the worst thing for us. Even though He knows that it’s only with Him that we find the purpose for which we’re made. Even though He knows we’ll be far happier with Him than without Him.
Seems like He’s putting a lot of the onus on us, isn’t He? I mean, our five senses are pretty limited here on the Prime Material Plane. We can’t possibly know the whole story, and it’s easy to fail to see the evidence of the Almighty in the muck and mire of Planet Earth. To expect us to fully grasp our situation and require us to give Him our whole heart and live a fully surrendered life seems pretty unrealistic, doesn’t it?
Yeah, it would – if that’s what God required.
But take another look at the story of the Prodigal Son. The title character’s primary motivation in returning home wasn’t remorse, it was hunger! And look at the father’s response – he showered the son with kisses, killed him the fattened calf and restored his place in his household.
So I think God doesn’t require wholehearted, fully informed, mature and complete assent to His will before He welcomes us in. He only needs the slightest genuine gesture on our parts (even if it’s mostly wrong-headed). We walk one metre and he zips across the other 999 to close a one-kilometre gulf between us.
God is respectful of our choices, but never, never at the expense of His grace.
Peace be with you.