Recently I read a (pretty awesome) book about the prodigal son. Maybe you’ve heard that parable that Jesus shares in Luke 15 – you know, the one where there are two sons. And the younger son takes his inheritance from his father (while he’s still alive!) and takes off to live a life of pleasure and extravagance and “reckless living.” Once he’s lost everything and is literally starving to death, he remembers his father’s house. He remembers that even the hired men have plenty to eat and he decides to ask his father to take him back – not as a son, he wasn’t worthy of that, but as an employee. So he goes home. But before he even makes it to the house, his father sees his coming and RUNS to embrace him and welcome him back into the family. Not only that, the father goes to extravagant lengths to celebrate the wayward son’s return.
There’s another son in this story. And y’all, his response to the way the father celebrates the younger son’s return is ugly. And SO convicting. But that is another blog post for another day…
I started thinking about how one of our friends on the streets might read this story. The part that we all tend to jump to is the conclusion: the Father will run to you and embrace you, and you will take your place as daughter, no matter what your life has looked like up until now!
But there is a long journey of addiction and pain and shame leading up to this jubilant restoration.
Remember, the son didn’t think he was worthy to be received as his father’s son after all the ways he had sinned against him. “I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.’” Even when the son returned to his father, it wasn’t with the expectation of being accepted and rejoiced over; it was simply to get a job and get back on his feet. He just hoped to change his circumstances.
Y’all, the Lord desires so much more for our friends out there! And so many are willing to settle for just a “better life.” They can believe that God’s mercy extends to getting them off the streets and off of drugs, providing a job and a safe, stable living situation. But so often, they don’t dare to believe that God would call them daughter. They don’t believe that they are worthy of being accepted, cherished, and celebrated when they run to their Heavenly Father.
But we believe it.
“But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
Heather Fitzgerald moved to Detroit from North Carolina because Jesus burdened her for the women and men here who are engaged in street prostitution. To the dismay of her family and friends in NC, she LOVES living in Detroit and has no plans to move back. Being a part of the AWOL outreach team is one of her favorite things. She hopes to, one day, be able to open a drop-in center for women on the streets here in Detroit.