Restorative Forgiveness, a Lenten Devotion

Throughout Lent, we’re featuring devotions by members of a writing group at First Baptist Church, Southern Pines, NC.

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

The second grade Sunday school class was visiting in the home of the pastor and his wife. The teacher had issued a strong warning to be careful in Reverend and Mrs. Cline’s home. I’m sure I was as careful as any eight-year-old can be, and I don’t remember the exact sequence of events, but following the crash, a figurine lay on the floor in a number of broken pieces. I recall my fear and certainty that such a sin would keep me out of heaven. And I just knew that the fury of the pastor’s wife—as well as my teacher—was about to land on my head. What happened next is why this story is part of my spiritual autobiography; Mrs. Cline hugged me. My teacher responded that “accidents happen.” Their forgiveness restored me.

Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son tells of forgiveness out of a generous spirit. When the self-indulgent son who took and squandered his inheritance “came to himself,” he made his way back to his father.

The father was watching and waiting for the lost son. So when the second son was still a long way off, the father ran to him, hugging him with tenderness. The fallen son did not have a chance to even ask for forgiveness; that he had returned home was sufficient.

Jesus’ story pictures God the Father, watching for each of us. Though we may have fallen away and seek our own path and pleasures, God waits to restore us into fellowship when we “come to ourselves” in faith.

Have you returned home to the Father or is God still watching and waiting for you?

Lord, when I am tempted to go my own way, keep me close to you in every way. Amen.

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