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Luke 15:11ff

Seven R’s

1. A request “Give me” (v.12)

2. A rebellion “Took his journey” (v.13)

3. A retribution “And he began to be in want” (v.14)

4. A reflection “He came to himself” (v.17)

5. A resolution “I will arise and go to my father” (v.18)

6. A repentance “I have sinned against heaven” (v.21)

7. A restoration “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him” (v.22)

Living Dangerously, S. Briscoe, Zondervan, 1968, pp. 59ff

The Tramp

Evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman recounted a testimony given by a man in one of his meetings. The man said, “I got off at the train depot one day as a tramp. For a year I had begged on the streets. Badly in need of food, I touched a man on the shoulder and said, ‘Mister, please give me a dime.’ As soon as I saw his face, I recognized my aging father.

“Don’t you know me?’ I asked.

Throwing his arms around me, he cried, ‘Oh, my son, I have found you at last! All I have is yours!’

Think of it—I was a tramp who begged for 10 cents from a man I didn’t know was my father, when for 18 years he had been looking for me to give me all he possessed!”

Our Daily Bread, November 12, 1992

The Photo

Longing to leave her poor Brazilian neighborhood, Christina wanted to see the world. Discontent with a home having only a pallet on the floor, a washbasin, and a wood-burning stove, she dreamed of a better life in the city. One morning she slipped away, breaking her mother’s heart. Knowing what life on the streets would be like for her young, attractive daughter, Maria hurriedly packed to go find her. On her way to the bus stop she entered a drugstore to get one last thing. Pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all she could on pictures of herself. With her purse full of small black-and-white photos, she boarded the next bus to Rio de Janiero.

Maria knew Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. When pride meets hunger, a human will do things that were before unthinkable. Knowing this, Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. She went to them all. And at each place she left her picture—taped on a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, fastened to a corner phone booth. And on the back of each photo she wrote a note. It wasn’t too long before both the money and the pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home. The weary mother wept as the bus began its long journey back to her small village.

It was a few weeks later that young Christina descended the hotel stairs. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A thousand times over she had longed to trade these countless beds for her secure pallet. Yet the little village was, in too many ways, too far away. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was this compelling invitation. “Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home.” She did.

Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Multnomah Press, 1986, pp. 158-9

Parable in the Key of F

Francis the Foolish felt a filial fondness for his flawless, fastidious father, Ferdinand the Fourth. Over one February fortnight, Francis, feeling footloose and frisky, forced his fond father to fork over five hundred forty-five farthings, then fled his father’s fertile fief. Fleeing to foreign fields, Francis finally frittered away his fortune on females, feasting, firkins of foaming ale, and fickle, freeloading friends. Fleeced by those fiendish fellows of the fleshpots, and facing failure and famine, Francis finally found himself flinging feed to fowl in a filthy farmyard as a farmhand. Footsore and famished, he fain would have filled his famished frame with filched food but found it fit only for a footman.

“Fie!” flared Francis. “My father’s flunkies fare far finer!” Fortunately, the frazzled and forlorn fugitive finally faced facts. Frustrated by failure and filled with foreboding, he fled forthwith to his faraway family. Falling fatigued at his father’s feet, Francis feebly phrased his feelings. “Father,” he fumbled, “I’ve flunked—and fruitlessly forfeited family favor. Forgive me!”

The far-sighted father, forestalling future family fissures, flagged his flunkies, “Fetch a fatling from the flock and fix a feast for Francis! Fall to! Faster! ”Frederick the fetulant, Francis’ fiesty, fault-finding brother, frowned upon his father’s forgiveness of Frances’ former philandering. “Flog the foolish flounder!” he fumed. But the faithful father felt that Francis’ former foibles should be freely forgiven.

“Filial fidelity is what fathers are for, Frederick,” said Ferdinand, his feelings freely flowing. “Forsooth! The fugitive is found, so what forbids festivity? Fly the flags freely, amid fifes, fiddles, and fanfare. Fling a feast!” Francis, face flushed, foreswore frippery forevermore by forcing his frame into a friar’s frock.

Fini

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