Our pets want us with them. They miss us when we are gone, and they welcome us when we return. They don’t care if we come home dirty and sweaty from hard work, tired and cranky from a disturbing day, or happy and excited with good news. They want us with them however our disposition may be. It’s that unconditional acceptance that so attaches us to them. If others won’t talk to us, don’t care about our day, lay another agenda on us when we get home, our pets are just happy to see us, to have us with them to complete the family. When we aren’t there, they feel that something is missing for them, and they yearn for our return.
God regards us in the same way. God misses us when we aren’t at home with Him. He sees us as part of His family, and the group is incomplete when one of His children is missing. He doesn’t care what we bring when we come home, pleasant surprises or difficult problems, a cheery smile or a down-in-thedumps frown. He wants us home, however we present ourselves. Our presence, our companionship is important to our God, and He will go out of His way to lure us back to Him. This message fills the gospels.
The story of the Prodigal Son is probably the best illustration of God’s longing for us. But there are so many other examples of His unconditional love and acceptance. Leprosy doesn’t keep Jesus away, nor does any kind of sin. He holds conversations with a Roman centurion, a Samaritan woman and a demoniac without disdain for these unacceptable sorts. He feeds the hungry. He doesn’t send them away. He answers questions from the rich and the poor, from the learned and the ignorant. When He is dying on the cross, He has conversations with His mother, the beloved disciple, and criminals alike, never failing to comfort and reassure them. He shares dinner with the distinguished and the lowly, and He is comfortable with whatever they bring to the table, challenging questions or tears of remorse and contrition. Jesus is the face of God in these scenarios, and what we see is a God more comfortable in our skin than we are at times, embracing our humanity, whatever its condition, with His grace.
This Lent, let us not be afraid to come home to God, no matter where we have been or how long we have been away. He misses us. He is sitting at the door of our hearts crying for us to open them. Don’t keep Him waiting any longer.