“Celebrate and be glad, for this [child] of mine was dead and is alive again. “
I know. I know. But before you quickly close the tab, I want you to know that, a) I recognize how completely “overdone” reflections on this particular passage are, b) that most of these said reflections are typically pretty high on the “cheese scale,” and c) I’m not here to waste either your or my time.
With that being said, let’s begin.
If you’ve never heard the story, it’s Luke 15:11-32.
Quick recap: A man had two sons. The youngest demanded his inheritance from his father and set off to a distant land where he squandered all the money on “wild living.” – Use your imagination. — Broke and alone, the son hired himself out to work on a farm, basically as a slave, where he was so hungry that he wished he could eat the slop he was feeding the pigs. Starving to death, the son decided to go back to his father and beg to be one of his hired servants, as he felt unworthy to be called his son anymore.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
But the father had his servants put the best robe on his son, a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. He had the fattened calf slaughtered. “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.”
I am the younger son.
Except the inheritance I demanded was not land or money. It was my life.
During my anorexia, I demanded the gift of my life from my heavenly Father. I demanded it and decided that I was going to give it to ED. Give it to Ana. Give it to my eating disorder. I was no longer living for Him, but for him – ED. And I was trapped. Caught in the destructive cycle, “feeding the pigs” if you will.
But you’ve heard that all before.
Here’s what really speaks to me about that story.
And it’s something that usually gets overlooked.
“But while [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him.”
A long way off.
Ok, BBB – what’s the big deal – a long way off. Awesome. Dude’s got great eyesight. What gives?
Imagine a long dirt road. Miles long.
The father didn’t just sweep his eyes across the horizon and just happen to see the son walking as a dot in the far distance. It’s not like pops got lucky and happened to be at the right place at the right time to see the son approaching.
He was watching for him.
The father was watching for his son to come home. Waiting for him.
That day was no special day that he decided to watch the road – he had been doing it habitually. Awaiting his beloved son’s return, day in, day out. Until one day, the father saw a pin point far off in the distance on the road – his son.
AND THEN HE RAN.
He ran towards his son to hug him. Love him. Embrace him.
Every. Single. Day. for the three-ish years I was entrenched in my anorexia, Jesus was out on that road looking for me. Waiting for me. Hoping that He would see me approaching in the distance so that He could run to me and hug me and celebrate my return.
He never gave up on me.
And it’s not like I was skipping down the road, like, “Heyyyy Jesus! What upppp??”
No. I was literally crawling. Broken. Covered in pig shit like the son. Barely holding on. And that’s not a figure of speech. I was literally hanging by a thread. I was, in every sense of the word, dead – mentally, spiritually, emotionally, socially, and yes, nearly physically – dead.
And He ran to me.
Lifted me up. Sustained me. Cleaned me up. Loved me. And celebrated my return.
There was nothing that I did that He did not forgive. Nothing that made Him repulsed by me. Even the pig shit. I did not gross Jesus out. I did not disgust Him, even though I probably definitely should have.
I was embraced. Forgiven. Brought back to life.
And you will be too.
“Celebrate and be glad, for this [child] of mine was dead, and is alive again.