One Step Back

One Step Back

Sometimes the “Back” button just isn’t enough. When I’ve opened three or four apps on my phone, or when a particular app has 8.3 bajillion (it’s a real number, trust me; I’m a mathematician) different screens or levels, or on my browser when I’ve spider-webbed my browser windows on Wikipedia for so long that I’ve lost track of where I started, backing through each successive screen is too much.

Aren’t you glad cell phone and computer manufacturers created “Home” buttons? It’s far nicer to just reset to the home screen of a phone or the desktop of a computer than it is to figure out what apps or browsers are open, and how to retrace your steps. One touch, one click, one step – we are only ever that far away from a fresh start. I use the “Home” button on my smartphone all the time, and I don’t even think twice about it.

So why is it so hard for us as humans to get our heads around grace – God’s free and unmerited favor, and his “Home” button for the human heart? God’s grace wipes our record clean the moment we ask. There’s no need for us to undo every wrong we’ve ever done and no process of progressive reconciliation with God that finally leads to his acceptance of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re so lost in your sin that you can’t see a way out and can’t even really remember how you got there; God’s grace is “Home.”

I’ve had to use God’s home button many times before, in times when I have suddenly woken up in my life and realized that for days, weeks, or months I had been unconsciously or even consciously wandering further and further from my home in God’s grace and in obedience to him.

There is a story in the Bible of another person who found his “Home” button. In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parable of the Lost Son to illustrate what God’s love for his children is like. A son demanded that his father give him his inheritance before his father was even dead – an insult in that culture tantamount to telling his father “I wish you were dead.” After that he left home and wasted his money on partying. Finally, with all of his money spent, having no job but feeding filthy pigs (an unclean animal for Jews), and no food to eat but the slop he was feeding them, he decides to return home and beg for his father’s forgiveness, so that is what he did:

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.

 

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

 

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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him…” And how did his father see him a long way off, unless every day he was looking down the road that had carried his son away, hoping for his son’s return? At that moment it did not matter how long the son’s absence had been, and it did not matter how many footsteps it took him to return; once the father saw his son’s return, it was only one step back.

If you ever look up and find yourself fallen and far from God, remember that you are only one touch away from grace and one step away from home through Jesus Christ, God’s “Home” button. God is watching and waiting for your return.

Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son”

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