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Lenten Devotional: March 5, 2024

by Lora Ulrich, Director of Children's Ministries

God’s Ridiculous Grace

Luke 15:21-24: “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.”

The Old Testament book of Hosea is a parallel story of two messy relationships: the prophet Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute, and God’s pursuit of an unfaithful nation. God compared Himself to a father: loving His children, teaching them to walk, feeding them, lifting them up (Hosea 11:3-4). But Israel didn’t reciprocate His love. So, after years of loving, guiding, and providing for Israel, only to see them insist that they could find a meaningful life without Him, God allowed them to test that theory through a period of captivity. God disciplines His children for the same reason we discipline our own: Because we love them and want the best for them. Scripture says, “… the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:12). Discipline is not about revenge; it’s about getting our kids’ attention, reminding them of our love, and offering correction and restoration.

If you’ve ever thought God has it easy, think again. If you have ever had to discipline a child, it’s heart wrenching as a parent sometimes. Can you imagine how God feels over our sin? Ugh! I’m sure His loving heart breaks over us when we reject Him (Hosea 11:8-9). God judges evil because He is holy, righteous, and just. And just like us, as parents, He finds no joy in it. So even when Israel rejected God, His desire was to bring them back to Him.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells us about a father whose spoiled brat, younger son demanded his inheritance. Incredibly, the father gave it to him, and the young man quickly blew his money on a massive blitz of booze, drugs, gambling, and women. Eventually, broke, and hungry, he went to work for a pig farmer. And the day the hog slop started to look appetizing, he knew it was time for a change. So, he went home, ready to beg his dad for a job. But before he even got there, his dad saw him in the distance, ran to meet him, hugged him, and welcomed him home. Instead of having to grovel, he found grace. Jesus’ story illustrates that even when we’re living sinfully and selfishly, God loves us. And whatever it takes to get our attention and change our hearts, God is watching, waiting, and willing to welcome us home. His extravagant, relentless love refuses to give up on us. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes devastation to get our attention, instead of simply turning to Him.

If you question whether God could possibly love you; if you’re afraid you’ve drifted too far from God to ever come back; if you feel like “shame” or “regret” could be your middle name; please know that the message of Jesus is exactly the opposite. Even when we’re actively, defiantly, unrepentantly sinning against Him, God loves us, and wants a relationship with us. “God demonstrates His love for us: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. (Romans 5:6-8). God’s ridiculous grace doesn’t wait for us to get our act together. He loves us even before we give Him a passing thought. Before we took a single step toward Him, He knew the distance between Him and us by our sin, and He put on flesh and suffered and died to remove that barrier. He loves us and wants to bring us back to Him. And that means it’s always the right time to turn to God.

Prayer: God, thank you for your unwavering love and unmerited favor and grace in my life. I’m grateful that you continue to call my name even when my attention wanders. Help me to show the same grace to others as Your reflection in me.


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