Luke 15:11-24 (NIV)

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he 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.  21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  ‘ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Psalm 139:7 (NRSV)

Where can I go from your spirit?  Or where can I flee from your presence?

DEVOTION – Rachel Noles (Florida)

The stranger spoke three words.  What he said reminded me of God’s presence, even to the depths of the seemingly bottomless pit I had hurled myself into.  I tried to smile through my tears.  I paid for my wine coolers and let the store, afraid the man would see the emotion his words had evoked.  I couldn’t tell you what he looked like because I couldn’t face him without revealing my shame.  But I do remember his words, “Jesus loves you.”

At first, I wanted to snap back at him, “I am well aware.”  After all, my father was a preacher.  I hadn’t always been the sniveling wreck I had become, buying alcohol to drown my pain.  Did he recognize the condition of my self-destructive soul?  Did he understand the depth of his words?  Through them, God was calling me back.

Over the next three years I often thought of his words.  All that time, God ever patient, was waiting for me.  I began to pray, read scripture, and worship with God’s people.  The moment I turned toward home, God was there to pull me up, to dust me off, to love me through the mess I had made of my life, and to bring me back to the “road that leads to life” (Matt. 7:14)

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Each person we meet needs to be reassured of God’s love.

PRAYER:  Dear Lord, thank you for your presence and for your voice that calls to us wherever we are.  Amen.