It's spring again...that time of year when I celebrate the time I fell in love with Baton Rouge. We're going on six years now. :) I remember why I have a love/hate relationship with Baton Rouge around the middle of June (when I almost have my first heat stroke of the year), but I digress. It's been a beautiful week...one of those weeks where you just want to take a blanket and a book to a park and soak it all up (or at least I do). It's the time of year when sunny days feel like love letters from God, and I'm very grateful even if I don't get to soak them up as much as I'd like.
With spring also comes Disciple Now! I spent last weekend with 9 of my 7th grade girls, and it was a wonderful time of laughter, wonder, curiosity, Bible study, worship, and just plain fun. It's amazing to see how far many of them have come in their relationships with God since I met them in 5th grade. They're such blessings to me, and I adore seeing God working in their young hearts. It's inspiring and heartwarming. Here's my favorite pic from the weekend (We love jumping pics!):
One story we wrestled with and poured over this weekend was the Parable of the Lost Son(s). Allow me to explain that (s). ;) Many of us grew up reading about the poor pitiful younger son who ran off and squandered his inheritance then received amazing grace from his loving father upon his return, but we rarely pay attention to the older brother, who happens to be just as lost as his younger brother. I was reminded that many times we are the one running fast and hard away from God like the younger brother, and many more times we are the one shunning the one running away from God. We pretend we're ok with God ourselves when actually we have a false sense of righteousness and pride that comes from ourselves and not from a healthy relationship with God. Check it out in Luke 15:11-32. It'll rock your world...as I'm sure it did in its original telling.
If you back up to the beginning of Luke 15, you can see Jesus tell two other stories of lost things that were saved and found. I can just hear religious leaders grumbling by the time he got to the third story about a lost thing (This time a son.) and saying to themselves, "OK...we get it already!" Leave it to Jesus to stop them dead in their tracks though. He left them thinking verse 24 was the happy ending: "24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate." I can almost hear the long pause in the text as he changes gears and utters that age-old literary table-turner, "Meanwhile..."
Verses 25-32 go on to tell the story of the older brother who throws himself a pity party because he's been doing all the right things and HE never got a party. Once again, Jesus highlights the importance of a relationship with Him and defies the false way religious rituals and even good deeds for the sake of only doing good deeds can dangerously try to replace that relationship. He was just as lost as his brother, but he had been at the feet of his father the whole time. Frightening...and yet so true. Thank the Lord there's grace enough for all of us...whether we're runners or goody-goodies.
I just love how Scripture can have that fresh meaning no matter how many times you read the same passage. It's like Spring every time you open it. I'm so glad God's the God of new beginnings, fresh starts, and clean slates. I pray you let Him give your eyes and heart a fresh outlook this Spring. He's everywhere...if you just look.