One of my prayer partners and mentors shared about being in a Bedouin encampment in the Middle East. Bedouins are nomadic Arabs who live in desert regions herding sheep, goats, camels and live in tents.
While sitting in a tent with them the question was asked of the Bedouins, “If someone does something that brings shame or sorrow on the rest of the clan, what is the process by which they can return to the community?” The men shrugged their shoulders, “There is no process. Those who have failed can never return to the clan. They cannot be forgiven and will remain outside of the community.”
One of the deepest human fears is exclusion. It haunts us on the playground, during our teen years, in our corporate boardroom and especially at home. What if we fail so disastrously that we are rejected for the rest of our lives?
Psalm 103 address such a primal terror, “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” How far is the east from the west, or the heavens above the earth? These are meaningless measurements. David was looking for a way to say with God there are no lost causes. As long as our hearts turn toward home, even when weighed down with regrets, the door will be open.
A thousand years after David’s time, Jesus told a parable about a young man who is unforgivably callous to his father. “Father, I’ve concluded I would be better off if you were dead. Give me my share of the inheritance and I’ll be on my way.” He takes the money and leaves, blows it all. Can there possibly be a means by which the young man can ever live at home again?
According to Jesus, there is. While he was still along 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. We can come up with every reason why our lives might be broken beyond repair, but if we just get within sight of home, God the Father comes running for us.
-Rev Dr William Lewis