I have this routine every morning of pouring my cup of coffee, grabbing my Bible, and sitting in the same exact spot on the couch. (On a side note, I’m kind of like Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory when it comes to my spot on the couch.)
My dachshund-mix, Rooney, loves curling up right next to me. My other dog, Finley, truly doesn’t have a preference as to where he curls up on the couch. He’s just happy to have a place to call home. Occasionally, Rooney takes his time getting to the couch and Finley is the first one to plop himself down beside me…unaware that his decision is about to cause a disturbance in the force. When Rooney shows up (he’s kind of like Sheldon Cooper too) he is never satisfied until he has claimed the prime spot right next to me. And, I always end up accommodating this desire too. If you know dachshunds then you know it’s not really worth arguing with them. They’re a stubborn breed and their determination will eventually wear you down. So I gently push Finely down to the center of the couch to make room for “King” Rooney.
Yesterday, it happened again. Rooney showed up late and Finley took his spot. As he stood at my feet waiting for me to fix the issue, these words came out of my mouth:
“You can’t be late to the party and expect to get the best seat in the house.”
As the words tumbled out of my mouth, I immediately recognized that our natural tendency as humans is to live with a first come first served attitude and with this belief that promptness gets praised while tardiness gets punished. It dawned on me again how totally opposite to Jesus’ nature and character this tendency is. Jesus’ way of loving people looks nothing like our first come first served or the early bird gets the worm attitudes. In His kingdom, the last will be first, the weak will be strong, the poor are rich, and the humble and the gentle are embraced.
We see it in the prodigal son story when the squandering son comes home and receives a loving welcome not a lecture about being late. You’re the honored guest. I never gave up hope that you’d show up. I was watching for you. Come, let’s celebrate! I saved you a seat!
We see it as Jesus responds to the thief hanging next to him on the cross. The thief, a broken man with eyes that were finally willing to see Jesus for who he was and then humbly make a request of him: Please, Jesus, remember me. And Jesus responded, of course I’ll remember you in paradise. You are the reason I left it in the first place!
I then thought about these words from a Sunday message from a few years ago.
“God is a missionary God…and God is on a mission to get his kids back.”
And what truly amazes me is the lengths a Holy God will go to rescue his kids. His grace, His forgiveness, His mercy shouts truth into our distracted and discouraged souls: You’re not too late. You haven’t run too far in the wrong direction. Come home, I’ve saved you a seat!