My daughter came to visit this week and brought her chick pea, I mean chi poo…named Cooper. Danae needed a little cheering up so I surprised her and Cooper with a Hudson Bay dog sweater. I never thought I would see the day that I would buy a dog sweater but I learned years ago, “never say never.” Your children are always your children and it’s nice to surprise them once in a while. I don’t know how Cooper felt about his new ensemble but the sweater sure brought a big smile to Danae’s face.
An interesting thing happened later on that evening and I’ve been thinking of it ever since.
Cooper was standing in the living room, modelling his new sweater when suddenly, he caught a glimpse of himself in the sliding glass door. He started to bark and growl at his reflection because he didn’t recognize himself. Cooper bounced around, nervously eyeing this other dog that looked so much like him. Danae suggested that we take the sweater off to see if this pea-sized brained dog would figure things out but alas, the same reaction.
It got me thinking – sometimes, we don’t recognize ourselves.
I’ve been looking around too much at people these days, rather than looking at Jesus and it has put me in a bad place. I seem to be running really low in grace. This morning, I chose to spend some good time with God and I ended up reading the story of the prodigal son.
If ever there was a picture of grace, it’s the story of the waiting, loving father. He must have felt such deep anguish when the son wanted to take his share of his inheritance and leave home. The cultural expectation would have been for the father to assert his authority and uphold the family honor by beating the son into submission, then disinheriting him. But the father does the unprecedented; he divided his property between his two sons. The father chose to keep the relationship intact – he chose to remain the young man’s father even though the son no longer wanted to be the son. His son hurt him so deeply yet he father chose to bear the weight of the rejection. Interesting.
This painful experience could have really jaded the father – he could have dulled the pain by cutting himself off from his son. He could have wiped his hands clean, given his son the silent treatment, distanced himself emotionally from him or worse – he could have given up on him.
That’s the moment that I recognized myself. That’s me…full of judgment/empty of grace.
The father didn’t give up on his son.
So, he (the son) got up and went to his father. 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. Luke 15.20
The whole gospel is contained in that one conjunction – “but” – something contrary to all that should be. The father was filled with compassion for his son, despite all that the son had done to him. He gave his son the very best – a robe, a ring, sandals on his feet and a fattened calf. He treated his prodigal son like an honored guest.
I needed to be reminded of God’s grace for me. I need to be gentle with others and lavish them with the grace that God has lavished on me.
It’s sobering to recognize myself.