The Parable of the Empty Nester
There once was a single father whose children had all gone off to college. They would come home every weekend to do laundry and have a few meals and the weekends soon became the father’s favorite time because he got to see his children. The children greeted him with hugs and wouldn’t allow him to do their laundry because they wanted to take ownership of it. They cooked meals with him and sat around the table to eat. They didn’t ask for gas money before they left but the father knew his kids could use it and he would always give it to them generously.
But as time went by the children grew farther from the father. They still visited but not necessarily every weekend; other things became more important. When they did visit, they dropped their laundry at the laundry room door. No longer did they feel the need to take ownership of it; they just expected the father to clean it up. The father also began cooking alone and often only for himself. His children became too busy for sitting around the table and they settled for fast food or microwavable meals that they would eat in their rooms or on the go. And gas money became an expectation—the children would just stick their hands out before leaving on Sunday afternoon and when the amount varied, they would complain that it wasn’t as much as it had once been.
We can be this way with our Heavenly Father. In the beginning, when we are new to the faith, we long to be close to God. We are sure never to miss church, we take responsibility for our sins by confessing them and repenting of them, and we spend intentional time with God, getting more and more nourishment from the Word and Bible studies. We accept God’s blessings and recognize how generously God gives them. But as time goes on, we can become comfortable and complacent. Maybe we start missing church, we continue to sin without any sense of responsibility, we expect to be forgiven at the snap of our fingers. We don’t spend intentional time with God, rather we settle for a quick “verse of the day” or tweet for our spiritual growth—the fast food equivalent of a home-cooked meal. And we complain when we don’t receive the blessings we think we should receive.
“‘I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.’” (Leviticus 26:12)0
“‘For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.’” (John 3:16)
“We love each other because he loved us first.” (1 John 4:19)
God loves us more than we could ever hope to comprehend and He longs for a close relationship with us. That’s the entire story of the Bible: God’s pursuit of us. We see Him moving closer and closer to us, first in conversations, then in presence, then in the human form of Jesus Christ, and finally within our very hearts in His Holy Spirit. The story of Christmas is the story of another step in God’s relentless pursuit of us. Let us seek Him with the same love and passion with which He seeks us: talk with Him often, take ownership and your sins, spend intentional time getting as much spiritual nourishment as you can, and accept His blessings with a grateful heart.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.