The Story of the Lost Daughter

No story in all of Scripture is more tender to me, more terrifying, than the story of the prodigal son. I never wanted to identify with that particular parable, with that kind of guilt and humiliation, and if I’m being honest, I never thought it was possible. I mean, I attended church. I led Bible studies. I never even kissed the man I married until I knew we would be.

Who me? A prodigal? Never.

But there I was, limping home from a deceptive and distant land, dazed and disillusioned, belly empty and aching after feeding hogs all day, wondering if my Father would take me back.

Maybe I could just be His servant, one of His hired hands; I’d feel a lot better if I could somehow work off what I’d done. Or maybe a beating would help, the kind reserved for runaway slaves and rebellious children. But I was already bloodied, battered and bruised, and I don’t think I’d survive another blow.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to. I was struck, instead, by the Gospel of grace.

But while [she] was still a long way off, [her] father saw [her] and was filled with compassion for [her]; he ran to his [daughter], threw his arms around [her] and kissed [her] (Luke 15:20).

He never asked where I’d been, what I was up to. He never even questioned my motives for returning. He simply welcomed me home, treating me as if I’d never been away. He flung Himself around my neck in such a passionate display of faithfulness, despite my own lack of fidelity to Him, all I could do was fall into His embrace.

The Parable of the Prodigal Daughter

I walked that old familiar road recently, the one that led to the far country, and though I no longer milk the memories it holds, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my wanderings. The remembering is always hard, pain-full, shame-full. But, with all the tenderness of His homecoming kiss, I heard Him whisper to me:

My child, this is no longer your story. You don’t have to wear its scarlet letters anymore. This story is about Me. It’s about My forgiveness, My pardon that precedes any repentance and pleas for mercy. If you want to identify yourself as the lost one in this story, then please, do it as the one lost in love.

It took me a while to agree to this, to let the truth of it sink in deep. To admit that my failures don’t define me, and to accept that they’re paradoxically yet precisely what qualify me to fully experience His love.

And I believe a day is coming when I can actually rejoice in the certain set of circumstances that turned me into a prodigal, that lent themselves to personal growth, that taught me the hard way how He can work out everything for my good, even my sin.

But today, I still walk with a limp. I still bear the scars from that barren place. But instead of serving as reminders of the time I hobbled home, I choose to see them now as mementos of the day my Father ran like crazy to meet me with a ring and a robe.

For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little (Luke 7:47).

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