January 31, 2021

For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.—I Peter 2:25

It happens every day all over the world: a prodigal returns home. Rejected, dismayed, chewed up and spit out by the world. The same world they thought they could make a go of; thinking they had what it took to chart their own course, their own way. Thinking they would somehow be different have a different outcome. The world’s darkness would not overcome or rule them, they would be the one influencing and not being influenced.   

We have all been prodigals at some point not only before we were drenched or sprinkled with the waters of Holy Baptism, but even after. Even after the flame of the Holy Spirit has lit his fire within us, the world’s lure has been too tempting, too attractive, too mysterious to turn down and so we left all we knew; traded it in for a cheap imitation of truth, love, wisdom, peace, and faith.

But like the others who have experienced the goodness of the Good Shepherd, known the sweetness of his love, the tenderness of his touch, the beauty of his grace, eventually we come home. There is no sense in hoping for a back door to slide in unnoticed; there is only one way to come, one entrance and we cannot get past him. We expect condemnation, shaming, grilling, rejection, but the Shepherd surprises us and embraces us gladly.

All prodigals can hear those words “Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Abounding in grace and mercy. Abounding in joy and healing; forgiving and forgetting. Even the angels in heaven rejoice when one prodigal comes home to graze in the Shepherd’s pasture after being away.

We can be encouraged today knowing even whether we have drifted away a few days, weeks, months, or even years, the Shepherd will welcome us, care for us, restore us and love us unconditionally. Let’s Pray,

Jesus, how many times we wander like straying sheep, going off into other pastures, seeking that which is not real or lasting, trading the authentic for that which is fools gold at best. Thank you for always a place for us and making it so easy to return.             

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