I am a Josh Hamilton fan. He has overcome battles many of us would never understand and has returned to the national stage of baseball proclaiming that the love of Jesus is what brought him back from the depths of evil.

This weekend, I started hearing the reports of photos on the Internet of Hamilton doing things he shouldn’t be doing and couldn’t help but wonder if it was true or just someone trying to cause trouble.

Sure enough, he admits it was him and goes on to tell how he notified his wife and his employer as soon as it happened. In my mind, that is the sign of a person who knows what it is to live in the shame of sin and the freedom brought on by knowing his forgiveness from God is secure. Not only that, he is also forgiven and supported by the people who could easily tear him apart. That is God working in the hearts of people.

A brother took what his father gave him and went out into the world to live the worldly life, losing everything. He came back to his father wanting only to be treated like a hired hand but the father threw a feast. We are not told the father set him down and scolded him. We are not told the father made the son earn his trust over time. We are not told the father kept a wary eye on him waiting to catch him do something wrong.

Jesus tells us in Luke that the father ran to him! The father didn’t even wait for the son to come to him, tail between his legs groveling for forgiveness. The father ran to meet him. Wow. How many times have I run to someone who has hurt me when I knew they were sorry for it? But that’s not all, he also threw a feast! Even more, he put a robe on the son’s back, a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. (There is symbolism in all those things that make it more special than a casual reading can do justice but I won’t go there now.)

Then there’s the older brother. Disappointed. Chastising. Self-righteous.

When you see someone like Hamilton mess up, do you connect more with the returning brother or the self-righteous brother? Do you understand the shame of sin or do you revel in the fact you haven’t done anything that bad? When someone treats you like Hamilton treated those who trusted him, do you connect more with the father or the self-righteous brother? Do you run to grant them forgiveness then lift them up like royalty or do you stand in the back wondering why they should get so much attention and such mercy? I know who I want to connect with from this day on.

Hamilton messed up (raise your hand if you haven’t), Hamilton hurt people close to him (raise your hand if you haven’t), Hamilton gave in to the evil side of the spiritual battle (raise your hand if you haven’t) but…this is BIG…but the Father is throwing a party that Hamilton came home humbled and saddened by his failing. The Father won’t bring it up again, won’t hold it over his head, won’t make him wait for complete forgiveness and unconditional love.

How will we react to the Josh Hamilton’s in our life?

Interesting sidenote…C. J. Wilson, a pitcher on the team, put this on Twitter…”I’ll only say this once about Josh so listen up- he’s a bigger man than anyone I know. Who else can admit EVERY mistake they’ve ever made?” I don’t know if Wilson is a Christian but do you think Hamilton’s actions are making an impact on him?

Grace and peace to you.