Last weekend the Leadership Transformations family celebrated our 8th Anniversary in a variety of ways, starting with an event entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Our Inner Fire for God.” During one of the plenary sessions I spoke about “Feeding the Neglected Soul,” and suggested five inviting ways we can nurture our souls. As a result, I’ll be addressing these in my blog posts through the end of this year.
The first way we feed our neglected soul is to open ourselves fully to receive the abundance of our Heavenly Father’s loving embrace.
In the parable of the lost son (Luke 15: 11-32), we see how extravagant the prodigal father’s love is toward his wayward son. After having squandered his father’s inheritance in wild, riotous living, the younger son finds himself in a severe famine of the soul, eventually sleeping among the pigs. But, “when he came to his senses” and realized how far he was from his father’s heart and household, he mapped out his plea for forgiveness and set his trajectory toward home.
But, while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming from the porch of heaven and was filled with compassion for his son. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Without needing his son’s apology, the father brought him the best robe, a bright ring, and sandals for his feet. A fattened calf was killed in his behalf and a feast of celebration was thrown in his honor. His son was home, hallelujah!
How surprising to the reader to see the upside down nature of the father’s unconditional love. For most of us, we’d follow a much different course…perhaps stand on the porch with arms folded firm, keeping a stern face of disappointment until the lost one pleads for forgiveness, with a punitive or judgmental response before issuing mercy. Are you willing to consider such a contrast of replies – the chasm between our human response and the extravagance of the heavenly Father? And, are you open enough to see yourself as the wayward son (or daughter) and genuinely long to receive the Father’s loving embrace?
The core of the gospel we proclaim is “love” – sent from heaven above and fulfilled in Jesus. Love for all lost sons and daughters who daily walk their own path and spend their inheritance as they best see fit, even if it leads to their self destruction.
Come home, dear friend, to the Father’s loving embrace. Receive that unparalleled gift and your life will never be the same again. It’s the essence of the soul of one who loves because they know without a shadow of a doubt that they were loved first by God. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).