I find myself drawn again and again to the parable of the Prodigal Son, and not for the purposes of simple study. The Spirit is using this story to show me, in very practical ways, both who I am and who God is. And in truth, who I am is only relevant in that I cannot see the Father any more clearly than I’m willing to see myself.
It’s one thing to say, “I’m wicked and filthy,” and to mean it in a rather general, even theoretical way. It’s something else entirely to let the Holy Spirit explain and illustrate exactly what that means specifically.
When I see what I’ve done specifically – and understand what that means about the condition of my heart – I feel the weight of my own wickedness. I am coated in the filth of my selfishness and hate. It is a tangible thing to receive the Spirit’s reproof, and the result is a desperate misery.
Now, I always thought that I was brought face-to-face with my specific wickedness so that I would see with new eyes the intensity of the Love that died to save my dung-covered, ungrateful self. And that’s there! No question. God is Love, and the more I see my darkness, the brighter the Light of Love shines. But I see even beyond that now. I see the specific Love of the Father.
All I will ever bring God is my dirty, filthy self. That’s literally all I have to offer. And not some general, theoretical wickedness either. I bring Him my own specific horror show. I come to Him coated, dripping with newly excavated unrighteousness, knowing that I am helpless to clean myself, save myself, LOVE myself. And what does my Father do?
…his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently].
Luke 15:20 AMP
He welcomes me home with open arms, dresses me like royalty, acknowledges me as His own and throws a party to celebrate my life. That’s what He does because that’s who He is. And only when I’ve taken hold of my real, actual sin and acknowledged it as fully mine do I experience the full and complete and specific LOVE that meets me. I come to God the Father covered and stinking, and He responds by cleansing and filling me with the splendid Life of His Son. If I wasn’t willing to bring my real mess, then I would miss out on the genuine homecoming to my real Father. Who I am is only relevant because it’s the only way to even begin to experience the unbearable wonder of who He is, especially as a Father.