One Shoe Off

While looking at Rembrandt’s portrayal of the Prodigal Son I am struck once
again by the huge, powerful wave of what grace really is. Not the sloppy,
unaccountable, freewheeling grace like modern evangelism preaches, but the
unconditional love that our Father in heaven has for us; even while we were
sinners.

I appreciate deeply the way Rembrandt told this story. His strokes were
heavenly, his brush led by the Spirit of God. This story of 2 sons is found in the
Bible in the book of Luke, chapter 15. The youngest son squandered his father’s
inheritance on booze, women and dreams that never came to be. The other son,
who stayed by his father’s side, worked and worked and worked to prove his
allegiance to his father. When the younger son returned home he set out not to
be forgiven but to survive, “For how many of my father’s hired men have food
to spare and here I am starving to death.” And the story goes on that “while the
son was a long way off the Father saw him and was filled with compassion for
him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

This wayward son was undone at the sight of his father standing with arms wide
open. He must have seen this look of joy, assurance and compassion on his
father’s face. Surely it was his father’s radiant countenance that allowed him to
approach his father in the first place. This broke and broken boy in an instant
knew he was welcomed. And at that moment the son was acutely aware that
there were no questions or interrogation or scolding. The air was thick with the
silent sound of acceptance. This unrehearsed song ultimately spoke louder to
him than his growling stomach. This passionate untamed love and grace from
his father caused him to fall on his knees; caused him to lay his weary head in
his father’s lap. And as seen through Rembrandts eyes, while dropping to his
knees, unafraid and unpretentiously, the son was unaware that his one shoe
had fallen off. To finally be free enough to be loved and love in return, means
we finally stop caring about what we say about ourselves and what others
might say about us and only have ears to hear what our Father in heaven says
about us.

This past weekend my family attended a softball game where a friend of mine‘s
3 year old son was there. He was so excited to watch and to cheer his Dad onto
victory! While at the game this sweet boy enjoyed running back and forth from
his little chair to the players bench to greet his daddy when he came off the
field. At one point this precious one had forgotten his shoe. His mother called
out to him lovingly to come back and get his shoe but he didn’t listen to her. He
ran hard to greet his daddy, over the little pebbles and over the rough ground;
nothing was going to get his way to get to his dad. All this love bunny knew
was that he had to go love his Dad. He didn’t care whether or not his dad scored
a run or caught the ball. He didn’t even know what the score was and even if he
did it wouldn’t matter. He had to go throw his arms around him. He had to kiss
him. He had to love him. And he did, with one shoe off.

Oh Lord, let my shoe of religion drop off. Let my shoe of approval drop off. Let
my shoe of self righteousness drop off. Let my shoe of selfishness drop off. Let
my shoe of performance drop off. Let my shoe of hidden motives drop off. Let
my shoe of prejudice drop off. Let my shoe of jealously drop off. Let my shoe of
bitterness drop off. Let my shoe of pride drop off. Let my shoe of deception fall
off. Let my shoe of fear drop off. Let my shoe of unforgiveness drop off. Let my
shoe of keeping score fall off. Abandon me to Love.

Today I realize how good, how very very good it is to have my heavenly Father’s
love. He knows where I’ve been and what I’ve done and he loves me anyway.
And that makes me drop to my knees.

I have a funny feeling we were all meant to walk down here with one shoe off.

One Shoe Off

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