How many variations of Jesus’ story of the lost son can be told! Many of us can tell our own versions, sometimes as the lost child, sometimes as the welcoming parent, amazing ourselves at what we learn about ourselves in both roles and at what we learn about God’s love.
What might be regarded as still a different version played itself out in public on Feb. 28, 2007, when Toby Dawson was reunited with his biological father. When Toby was 3, he was literally lost in a busy street market in Pusan, Korea, where his father, Kim Jae-soo, was a bus driver. He spent several months in an orphanage in Korea before a Colorado couple adopted him. Both adoptive parents were ski instructors and they must have taught Toby well, because he won the bronze medal in men’s freestyle skiing moguls at the 2006 Winter Olympics. He became an overnight sensation in South Korea with his Olympic medal. Front pages showed him beaming with joy in Italy, but they also showed a picture of him as a sad, small boy in a tattered shirt at a Korean orphanage waiting for someone to claim him.
After Toby’s medal many Korean men claimed to be his father, but DNA tests were used to confirm the right man. When the weeping father hugged his son for the first time in 25 years, he apologized for losing his son in the market. He said, “I’m so sorry. I went to so many orphanages looking for you.” Toby said, “I’ve been waiting for you for a long time. My life until now has been very confused.”
This story of the reunion of a father and son may not even bear up very well in a comparison to the Luke 15 parable which Christians have loved for 2000 years. It’s so very different, but it still has that touching scene when they are reunited with a big hug, when tears flow freely, when apologies are offered and interrupted with generous forgiveness. In the parable of Jesus, it’s the son who needs forgiveness and it’s the father who forgives freely, as he models the gracious love of God. Toby’s story has this reversed.
In your family, is there a chance you are the parent who needs forgiveness? You didn’t lose your child in a market, but you’ve been so busy for years that your child missed out on your attention and your hugs. Hopefully, it’s not too late and reunion can happen without DNA testing. On the other hand, you may be the child who needs to find the parent, to initiate the reunion, even to apologize for the separation.
In any case, just a brief reminder of Jesus’ parable draws our attention to the incredible love of our Heavenly Father who will ALWAYS welcome us back. He will always give us another chance. He doesn’t count how many times we left and then returned. He is ready to celebrate. He is watching the road for our silhouette and He will run to meet us!
Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey. All rights reserved.