In Henri Nouwen’s book “The Return of the Prodigal Son” he describes looking at Rembrandts painting “Return of the Prodigal” as a place where he sensed belonging and a place where he could feel at home. Not everyone one of us has that same sense in our lives. A place to call home or a place to belong. I remember almost twenty years ago in Chattanooga Tennessee teaming up with two other new plant churches trying to find a way to reach the unhoused population in downtown Chattanooga. We decided that as a collective group, because all of us were small in numbers, that we could collect clothing, do sanitary bags, and serve a breakfast in the middle of downtown near the most unhoused populated section. Each week went they numbers grew from twenty to fifty to almost a hundred. Our agenda was to serve and love on people as best we could, knowing that we did not have the resources to break the systems that had put them in their unhoused state.
Two of my best friends that came each time to eat were Ducky and Fred. These two guys would eat and laugh with me but also allowed me to pray with them each week for whatever needed to be prayed for. I remember one week Ducky had asked for me to pray with him for forgiveness for all the things he had done in his life. He had struggled with so many things, from family, kids he hadn’t seen in ages, addictions, and so much. It was on a street that God allowed me to show a Prodigal moment and show exactly what grace looks like. We hugged and cried so much that morning. I remember to this day what I said, “Ducky my bother you are loved more than you know, and you are ABSOLUTELY forgiven.”
Two weeks later I found out that Ducky passed from congestive heart failure. My heart was broken but at the same time relieved that I got to spend that time with him. It is amazing how God put us in the lives of people so that these encounters allow God’s grace to be shown through. Ducky didn’t have a physical home, but Ducky found home in Christ when he asked, if he could be forgiven. Nouwen says this, “Jesus himself became the prodigal son for our sake. He left the house of his heavenly Father, came to a foreign country, gave away all that he had, and returned through his cross to his Father’s home. All of this he did, not as a rebellious son, but as the obedient son, sent out to being home all the lost children of God.” Ducky found home as a child of God.
Sometimes we might feel like we do not feel at home or are lost running from God. Sometimes maybe we feel like we don’t have a place to belong. The one truth is that in Christ we all have belonging. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says this, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The old stuff, the junk, the mess, the issues (Like Ducky talked about) are all gone. You are a new creation, you belong, in Christ Jesus.
"The Return of the Prodigal Son," Nouwen, Henri, p. 55.