I fell tonight.
And because it was a dog park, I’m thinking probably some other “business”, too.
**Now, before everyone that has followed my health journey gets uncomfortable, I’m pretty confident that this was one of those normal falls that everyone has every once in awhile and hopes no one sees. I’m fine. 🙂
For real, though, the moment was not my proudest. One second I’m talking on the phone, and the next, I’m flat in the muddy, soggy earth and other, umm, stuff, while my dog licks my face frantically.
Gross. Just gross.
I actually just stayed put for a second, taking stock of what hurt (my ankle) and what smelled (everything). Carefully and slowly, I stood, dried my phone off, looked around sheepishly, and scurried out with my worried pup.
For the record, I do not recommend smelling the muddy ground of a dog park that closely.
I won’t go into details except to say that the familiar Parable of the Prodigal Son came to mind fairly quickly. In the past, I’ve visualized every part of the story as clearly as possible, but somehow I never really considered the smell. Or if I had thought of it, maybe I just couldn’t imagine.
Today I imagined.
Luke 15:11-32 describes a man that is done with life. Estranged from his loving father, having given up his place in the wealthy household, out of money, hope gone…and now working for a pig farmer. As Jesus told this parable, His Jewish listeners would have grimaced in disgust, knowing that working with the “unclean” pigs would be as low as one could fall.
Luke 15:16 goes so far as to say that the man was so hungry that he would have “filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat.” But he didn’t even have that.
Somewhere in the midst of it all, it occurred to him that even the servants in his father’s house had bread to eat.
And so, he decided. At his lowest point, he chose life, not death….not sure what that life would look like, he journeyed back home in faith. Knowing that to stay put would be the end of him, he set out for home, humiliated.
I can only imagine what that journey was like and the thoughts that filled his mind….the shame, the embarrassment…and, yes, the smell.
The stink lingered, no doubt about it. It followed him the whole way home, lest he forget where he came from. If for one moment, a thought of hope entered his mind…he only had to breathe in the stench of a pig pen all around him.
“…But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:” Luke 15:20b-22
I’ve read this parable 100 times, never really appreciating the most basic of what this man needed: to be clean again. When that robe was wrapped around him and shoes placed on his feet, can you imagine the relief and comfort it must have brought him? It seems like one of those things only a loving parent would think of! No time for questions or showers or stories, let’s get you clean again! Such love!
So, I imagine God tonight is here with us, just like that father. And as He reminded me face down in a muddy dog park today, He is so ready to pick us up, clean off the stench of life and sin, and welcome us home.
In fact, He’s waiting for us to come back…
To where we are loved.