A Kiss for a Prodigal

by DanWolgemuth on September 3, 2021

*Dan is away for a summer sabbatical – a time of rest, rejuvenation and reverence.  Please enjoy one of our favorite Friday Fragments.  This Fragment was initially published on August 24, 2018.

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20, ESV)

In 2009, the Academy Award for the Best Motion Picture of the Year went to Slumdog Millionaire. The story is a creatively-woven movie that chronicles the life of three young children left as orphans in the slums of Mumbai, India. The picture is rough and raw… but compelling.

The essence of the storyline is the relentless pursuit of Jamal Malik to find his childhood friend, a juvenile crush… Latika. The painful childhood separation of the two left an unabated passion for Jamal to pursue, rescue and reunite with the love of his life.

Latika has been abused, and controlled, and enslaved through her journey to adulthood. At one point, Latika escapes, only to be recaptured. She’s thrown in the back seat of a car and as the vehicle pulls away from the curb an agonizing Jamal watches as a knife slices across her left cheek as a consequence of her action.

But hope is not completely lost. As the result of a sacrificial act by Jamal’s brother, Latika is liberated, and at long last, on a railway platform, Jamal and Latika are reunited.

They embrace… oblivious to the world and clamor around them. And in a powerful act of grace and love, Jamal leans forward… but not for a lingering romantic kiss. Instead, Jamal’s lips meet the lengthy and prominent scar that marked Latika’s left cheek.

A lifetime of waiting and wanting… culminates in a kiss to a scar.

Scars. A visible reminder of pain and brokenness. Smothered, but not with makeup or coverup… but with love. Not ignored, but not shame producing either.

Our scars. My scars. Evidence of a fallen world and a sinful heart. My scars… some self-induced, some a product of others.

But God. Through Jesus.

A prodigal… looking for home. Now swamped by the outrageous love of The Father. Embraced, then kissed.

No plastic surgery. No blinders on… no, God kisses our scars.

Amazingly, it is by His wounds, His crushed body, His sacrifice that my wounds can be redeemed. By His scars I am healed.

Grace kisses what sin produces. In His embrace, I am not shamed or rebuked… I am loved. While I was still a long way off, while I was still a self-consumed sinner… I was pursued. Relentlessly.

Is there a scar you are hiding? Has shame convinced you that you could never be loved?

His wounds heal my wounds. And then the kiss, not in ignorance, but in outrageous love. Not a condoning kiss but a redemptive kiss. Not sin concealed, but grace revealed. Out of the ashes, beauty.

On a railroad platform in Mumbai, a scar was no match for love.

Someday it will be our turn to kiss His scars… the scars that brought us hope. The sacrifice of His pursuing love.

His kiss… a kiss of mercy. My kiss… a kiss of worship.

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Only a pebble…

by DanWolgemuth on August 27, 2021

*Dan is away for a summer sabbatical – a time of rest, rejuvenation and reverence.  Please enjoy one of our favorite Friday Fragments.  This Fragment was initially published on September 11, 2020.

My workday had concluded, and I made the short commute from the office in our home to the front porch. Mary was sitting there, watching over the water play of two of our grandchildren. Our two youngest. Juni, our 3-year-old, and Mack at nearly two.

They had filled a clear storage tub with water and were delighting in hopping in and out. But the fascination soon subsided and quickly they shifted their attention to moving rocks from our corner landscaped area into the tub. One at a time. Each trip rewarded with a corresponding splash. And each trip accompanied with joy as the rocks made their way to the bottom of the transparent tub.

Juni and Mack had no difficulty maintaining their attention when it came to this new activity. Back and forth they went. Sometimes it was nothing more than a pebble; other times it was a rock the size of their hands.

We watched with interest and joy, until Mary wisely noted that it was time for a warm bath and bed. Reluctantly, they complied.

My task, at this point was to pour the water from the tub and return the rocks to their rightful, and aesthetically pleasing location. With the water drained, I bent over to hoist the tub and carry it to the corner. To my surprise, I couldn’t lift it. Not an inch off the ground.

With less patience than my grandkids, I moved the rocks in front of me… but as I did, I was struck by the reality that a three-year-old and a two-year-old had produced an object too heavy for me to move.

Let that sink in.

Let it sink in when you question whether one small act of mercy or justice or kindness or grace will make a difference in a vast sea of hatred and brokenness.

Let it sink in when you feel as though one small comment about the love of Jesus is insignificant or meaningless or hopeless… a pebble.

Capture this vision when you think about an apology you need to make that feels trite or trivial or unnecessary against the blaring headlines of blame and self-righteousness.

Tug this visual to mind when you feel small or weak or insignificant.

One small rock. One. On top of one more. Matched with somebody else’s small stone…

And with patience, persistence, perseverance, grit, and teamwork, something significant is created. Something immovable. Something righteous and just and good.

The strength of a grown adult was no match for the collective work of two tiny hands and feet.

Is your act of mercy too small? Is your contribution too tiny?

Not a chance.

One small act of courageous obedience after another, and before long something immovable.

Find a rock. Find a pebble. Do the next right thing. Small. Unnoticed. Insignificant.

But the right thing. Do it. Lift it. Move it. Make it splash. Then go get another rock.

This is not only “a way” to make a difference, it is “the way” to make a lasting and sustainable difference. One small, God-honoring act at a time.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
                             and what does the LORD require of you
              but to do justice, and to love kindness,
                             and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

One small stone at a time. 

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