Day 7: He Runs to Us

Luke 15:

3 ¶ And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

11 ¶ And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

There are a few different perspectives that can be studied in this beautiful parable.  The one I want to focus on today is that of the prodigal son.  Each of us can relate to this son in the fact that we have all made mistakes and have turned away from God from time to time by not making Him a priority in our lives.  This may have led to sizeable sins or slightly measurable ones, but in either case, without the atonement of our Redeemer, these mistakes would bar us from ever being able to be in the presence of God again.

I for one have felt the guilt and shame of mistakes in my life.  I have felt the heavy burden of wondering whether or not I would ever feel loved by God or worthy of that love again.  Because of those feelings of despair I can completely relate to the squandering son who desired only to be a servant to his father, to be under his roof and protection once again, even if he could not partake fully of the abundance.

To my surprise, I learned that an acknowledgement of our mistakes and repentance of them, even of severe ones , does bring our Father running to us.  Regardless of our foolishness, He loves us and wants us to return to Him more than anything! He is waiting and watching for us to choose this course, and as soon as our heart is turned back towards Him it allows Him to run to us, to comfort us, to teach us, and to heal us. He will never cross the barriers of our agency, but when we act in such a way to invite Him back into our lives, He joyfully responds to the invitation.

Maybe you have never made sizeable mistakes that left you feeling this deep desperation, but even the smallest of sins saddens the heart of our loving Father because it keeps Him from being able to be fully in our lives.  We make choices every day that either bring us closer to Him or push Him farther away.  With each of these choices we bring Him joy or sadness. I am so grateful for a compassionate Savior and Redeemer who loves us so much He was willing to innocently suffer for and atone for our sins.  Through this great and infinite act He gives us each the key to repent and unlock the ability to return.  The most miraculous thing to me is that it does not have a limited amount of uses.  Any time, every time we come to our senses and realize we have distanced ourselves from God, we can use this gift to turn again and start on a path back to a Father who will run to us!

Song:

He Ran to Me

Talk:

Redeemer of Israel

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/10/redeemer-of-israel?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question: What is one area in your life you can turn back to God today?

40 Days with the Savior by Connie Sokol

My favorite find for this week comes from my friend Connie Sokol’s book 40 Days with Christ.

DAY 8: HE SACRIFICED FOR OTHERS

Luke 22:42, 44 [He said], Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

In a way incomprehensible to us, the Savior suffered the sins of everyone who has ever lived. But even more amazing, He could have chosen to vicariously feel our pains from a distance and remain only a kind friend or compassionate neighbor. Instead, He actually felt our same feelings, experienced our same pains, and walked our same path. This perfectly pure and clean Son of God chose to completely get down on our level. Why? So he could best know how to succor us. So He could know fully and completely know how to take away the pain. The Savior sacrificed everything—His personal desires, His comforts, even His will—so that we might have ultimate happiness. He gave us the possibility of a clean slate after each mistake, to let it go and be better next time. He loves us fully and completely, no matter our spiritual state, and only wants us to be happy and to be like Him. Jesus teaches us a core principle: sacrifice is a gift of joy. He suffered so that we don’t have to. When we’re sad, angry, or overwhelmed with the wrongness of our choices, we don’t have to stay that way. He already bore those burdens. And because of this, we can be happier. As we meet others, we can pay it forward and follow His example by sacrificing our time and abilities to share others’ burdens and lighten their load. How can you sacrifice for someone today?

Seeking the One

This picture is called “Seeking the One”and it was created by Liz Lemon Swindle. My son and I put together a big puzzle of it and until we sold our house recently it hung above the stairs in our home. I looked at it every day. And every day I felt deep gratitude for the Man who would leave the ninety and nine to find the one, because I have been that sheep, the one He seeks.

I honestly don’t know where I would be without my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I can’t imagine having to live out my life with the shame and regret of my mistakes and bad choices! I am so grateful for His love for me and willingness to sacrifice on my behalf so that I can shed the pain of my past and try again.

He loves each of us like that! He reaches out to us one by one and desires for us to come. He wants to heal us, help us, and walk us home.

Jesus Christ suffered in the garden, died on the cross, and rose again on the third day. Because of His willingness to do these things we have the opportunity to recognize our wrongs, repent and move forward becoming a little bit better day by day.