“A man had two sons. And the younger said, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need…
“But when he came to himself… 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. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet… Let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:11-14,17,20-24
“And the king took off his signet ring,.. and gave it to Mordecai.” Esther 8:2
“Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’ And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments.” Zechariah 3:3-5
There is much our sovereign Lord leaves to us: daily personal choices, allocation of time and resources, and vocational direction. He is a gentleman, not intrusive or a bully. But He is at the same time intimately acquainted with all our thoughts and ways, and providentially watches over His own to inspire and redeem. Like the father in this parable, His desire is for our good, even as we make bad choices. He embraces the repentant with grace and love, bestowing His robe and signet on all who humbly come, sealing our identity as righteous and His. (Psalm 139:1-5; Isaiah 61:10; Ephesians 1:13-14)
What a welcome! To have pride dissolved into contrition, to have laborer’s rags removed and be clothed like royalty, to have squalor and need replaced by guaranteed provision and authority, is an exchange made possible by God alone. When dead comes alive, and lost is found, a new identity is marked and set in motion. But how apparent is it in the way we live? (2 Corinthians 5:17)
What vestiges of the far country still stain our mental preoccupation, speech, habits, entertainment? Where am I wasting the treasures of time, ability, and resources my Father has entrusted to me? Are there misdirected affections leading me away from fellowship? What needs confessing and transformation? What will it take for me to bear gladly, and obviously, the mantle of Christ’s name and the marks of His love? What about the way I live causes others to recognize His Spirit, welcome salvation, and celebrate?
Father, created in Your image, and prodigal, may I bear the image of the Man of heaven as one now saved. Mark my identity as unmistakably Yours, light in a dark world offering Your life and glory. (Genesis 1:27; 1 Corinthians 15:49; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Philippians 2:15-16)