“But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Lk. 15:20
Can you imagine the father looking down the road to see if today is the day his lost son will come home?
I love the story of the prodigal son which illustrates God’s love for every lost son and daughter. I’ve heard it often as a child and in my adult years in various sermons and messages but it wasn’t until I “lost” a child that this passage came to life in a whole new way for me.
When you think of what the lost son did to his father — you would naturally think the father had every right to be angry and disappointed with his son. He squandered the father’s life earnings in the most vile and foolish ways. I think if I were the father in that story, how would I have reacted if my child did that to me? Punishment, discipline and having good boundaries would definitely come to mind.
But the father in this story says that while the son was still a great way off, he ran towards the son. It means the father looked for his son daily in hopes that he would return.
I was sitting in the counselor’s office listening to my Christian counselor recount this story as warm tears streamed down my face. My heart broke open as I saw the great love and compassion the Father has for every lost child.
The picture painted in this simple verse of the father eagerly looking out for his son to come home came alive in my heart and suddenly I felt like I was there waiting with the father.
Somewhere along the way, I’d forgotten that He’s more eager for my child to come home than I am. And even though He knows where the child is, He waits.
The son hoped that the father would accept him as a servant — for he no longer saw himself as a son.
What he encounters instead is a love so lavish, so full of compassion and mercy.
Even before the son can say he is sorry, the father runs to him, embraces him and kisses him. He calls for a feast and robes his son in fine clothing and puts a ring on his finger. And in doing so, the father affirms his position and identity as a son.
The Father’s love is so incredible that words can hardly describe it but so infinitely true. Jesus told the story to show us God’s unconditional love for every lost child including me and my beloved prodigal.
And I’m reminded how my Heavenly Father looked for me to come home when I lost my way and even now on days when I lose my way again and again, He is there with open arms. It’s only out of His love that I can love and extend the grace which I’ve received.
So today, I’m choosing to wait with Father and eagerly be on the lookout for the day — for that wonderful day of reunion.
How about you friend — how does this story speak to you?