One of the most amazing times during my recent Renovare' spiritual growth retreat was the Prayer Path Experience. Candles, soft reflective music, beautiful expressions of artistic creativity and a prevailing sense of peace and solitude drew me into the large room where people moved slowly, reverently between various prayer "stations." I spent over two hours there soaking in the presence and goodness of God. It was water for my thirsty soul. I visited all of the dozen or so stations and managed to keep my Type A personality in check...enjoying the moment and refusing to rush through so I could say I checked every box.
One of the stations that most impacted me was the painting of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal based on the story from Luke 15:11-32. As I took in the details of color, shadow, facial expressions...every nuance of this picture, I was brought once again to a realization of the real-life role I play more often than I would wish. Every time I run away to accomplishments, people, substances, activity, or any of the myriad ways I can keep myself distracted from my deepest need, I AM the prodigal. When I glance back home, I see the Father running toward me, arms wide open to welcome me back. I ask forgiveness for my need for self-importance and to appear smarter than I am, for independence, and for the desire to imipress. I want to do something to repay Him for his love and generosity, but He says, "I'm just glad you're home." He asks of me my whole life--not as repayment for grace, that would miss the whole point, but as an expression of gratitude and worship.
In offering my life to the Father, He pours out more grace to make me into the likeness of Christ. And He does it joyfully. He's not muttering to Himself, wishing He could write me off but instead having to tolerate me because of that whole "cross" loophole. He really is happy to have me home. What puzzles me at every homecoming is--why did I ever leave?