Posted: February 4, 2008 in Lessons

Fantastic Super Bowl last night!

The downside was that my little girl was sick all day yesterday, throwing up all day and all night, and now my wife is exhausted from caring from her, and on top of all that, now I’m not feeling so hot either.

But the Super Bowl was great!

Yesterday was our day in Ocean Springs to host the area-wide youth devotional, and our youth minister (Trent) decided to make it a big one, complete with Super Bowl and all. In the afternoon festivities, I was asked to be one of four people to take a room and have ten minutes with four different groups of kids. Trent wanted each of us to do something that would make a lasting impression on the teens.

The theme of the day was “Grace Like Rain,” so I ended up choosing the Parable of the Prodigal Son for my ten-minute topic. I spent the bulk of my time reading a modern-day version of the story by Philip Yancey, involving a runaway teen girl in Michigan. She lives the high life for a full year in a penthouse as a high-price call girl, but once she gets sick, she ends up homeless in downtown Detroit. Eventually, the girl calls home and leaves a message on her parents’ answering machine: she’s coming through by bus, and if her parents wanted to, they could meet her at the bus station at midnight. But she wasn’t sure they would even come. When the bus arrives, she is blown away to see forty family members with goofy hats, noisemakers, and a Welcome Home banner. “No time for apologies,” her dad says, “you’ll be late for the party.”

I was amazed at how captivated each of the four groups were by the story. Usually, only about one person out of a group of eight to ten noticed its relation to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and only a couple in each group had even heard that parable at all.

I’m proud to say that they have now. And at least once, they have heard that no matter how bad you screw up, God will take you back and throw a party.

And they’ve been told, too, that not all churches will treat you like that. If not, just pray for them. And remember, they aren’t acting like God acts.

At the end of each group, I got a volunteer to go out in the hall. Then, I distributed the party hats and the noisemakers. And yesterday, one person in each of the four groups got the chance to open the door and taste just the tiniest flavor of how God welcomes his children home.

I hope they will always remember. And I hope I do, too.

  1. Eddie Lewis says:

    Hey Al,

    Would you please send me a copy of the story of the modern day prodical daughter. It sounds like a very touching story. Thanks!

    I have not congratulated you on your decision to go back to school and get your law degree. What a great challenge. I will be praying for you and your family as you move from Ocean Springs to your new home.
    Blessings, Eddie

  2. Al Sturgeon says:

    Thanks, Eddie!!!

    I’d be happy to send you a copy in the mail (I read it from Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” book – it’s just 3 pages, I’ll copy it and send it to you.)

    Shoot me an email with your mailing address at

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