Here is my wife Beth's devotion for our church to complement today's sermon.
Devotion for July 11, 2021
By Beth Stroble
How can I find my way home?
This question, voiced by Simba (in the song “Endless Night”) at a defining moment in the Lion King story, expresses sorrow for the loss of his father Mufasa’s guidance. Recalling Mufasa’s words about the Great Ones of the past always looking down on them, he yearns for his father’s presence through a sign—even a word that gives hope for the future, a marker for the way home.
Home, of course, has many meanings—an actual residence, a town, or community of our growing up years—at its most literal. Home can be one place or many. As one who has lived many places, I typically think of home as “where you hang your hat.” But to truly feel that a place is home evokes John Denver’s words, “Take me home, country roads, to the place I belong. . .” Simba recognizes that carefree cavorting with Timon and Pumbaa is not where he belongs and feels called to return to his rightful home. Can he anchor himself once more in his father’s love and care for him and bridge the connection Simba feels has been broken?
The parallels to the story of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15: 11-32 are striking. While the circumstances that prompt the younger son to claim his inheritance and leave his father’s home are not Simba’s, we know that his “trip to a land far away” does not go well. “There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living” (verse 13). Just as Simba is reduced to eating bugs with a warthog and a meerkat, the prodigal son hires himself out to feed pigs, yearning to eat as well as they do. In the Common English Bible translation, we learn that these circumstances prompt the son to “come to his senses” (17). The NRSV translation describes this moment of insight as the time when the son “comes to himself.” Finding his way home depends upon his recognition of his need for his father’s love and care, a birthright he believes he has squandered and no longer deserves.
In both cases, the fathers’ love has remained constant and was never lost by these two sons. Simba’s father appears to him as an image in the water, encouraging him to come to himself as king. When the prodigal son’s father sees him coming at a long distance, he runs to him with open arms, expressing joy and compassion in his return. The son who was dead has come to life. “He was lost and is found!” (24) Simba and the prodigal son find their way home, the place where they belong.
These stories of being lost and found matter. Each of us may have stories of times when we lost our way and strayed from our true and best selves for any number of reasons. Blessed are we when these stories also include the joyous welcome and love of friends and family when we have found our way!
What we know is that our heavenly Father always welcomes us home. We never lose God’s love and grace, and God constantly intervenes in our lives to bring us home. As Jesus explains to his disciples, “I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but the will of him who sent me. This is the will of the one who sent me, that I won’t lose anything he has given me, but I will raise it up at the last day” (John 6:38-39). We are those he was sent to claim and to raise up. We are the sheep of his pasture. We are the lost coin. We are the prodigal son. We may stray from the kingdom, but the kingdom is never lost to us because of the grace, love and care of our Father. All we need do is come to ourselves as children of God, those who have been redeemed by Christ Jesus, and cared for by the Holy Spirit.
We were lost and now are found. Hallelujah. Amen.