When You Need to Find Your Way Back Home

“You are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”
Luke 15:31

 Photo by  Matt Howard  on  Unsplash

Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

The Gospel of Luke tells three stories about being lost and found: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. They culminate with an exchange between a father and his older son.

The father’s youngest son had left home and got into all sorts of trouble. When the younger son came back the father was delighted and threw him a big party. The older son was not so delighted. He was envious of what his newly-returned younger brother had been given. So, the father tells him:

You are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.

The story ends there, so we don’t know how the older brother replied. Perhaps he found the words hard to believe. Behind his envy lay scarcity thinking. If my brother is celebrated, it must mean I’m not being celebrated. If my father’s money is being spent on this party, there will be nothing left for me.

Scarcity-based thinking tells us that there’s a finite amount of what I need or want; there’s not enough to go around. Other people’s gain is my loss. If others receive attention, it means I’ll receive less. If others obtain recognition, it means I won’t be seen. If someone else shares their ideas, there will be less room for mine. If someone else is given love and affection there won’t be any left for me.

This way of viewing the world provokes anxiety and fear. It sets us up to be in competition with each other. It tangles us up in the weeds of envy and discontent. It works directly against our need for love and connection. It causes us to leave home in the belief that our needs will not be met.

But, as Henri Nouwen writes, ‘“In the house of my father there are many places to live,” Jesus says. Each child of God had there his or her unique place, all of them places of God.’ Jesus is fully committed to all God’s children and there is room for each one of us in his heart. Scarcity is a myth, a lie that keeps us from coming home to God, to ourselves and to each other.

The Good Shepherd not only calls us to come home but comes to find us when we’re hopelessly lost and can’t find our own way back. He is the one who recognises our intrinsic value and searches for us when all we can do is sit in our own dust and ashes. The Father welcomes us home with open arms, ready to declare:

You are my beloved child, on you my favour rests.

Chris Heuertz suggests that our way back home lies in contemplative prayer. When we make room for silence, solitude and stillness, we make room for the presence of Jesus. In solitude, we turn away from envy and towards gratitude. In stillness, we release our need to compete and find that we can rest. In silence, we turn down the voices of fear and tune in to the whisper of our Father:

You are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.

If you want to explore contemplative prayer practices further, there are some helpful ideas here.

Abby King2 Comments