The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is one of hope, restoration and a beautiful reminder of God's deep love for us. I have sat in church for close to 20 years hearing this story and yet yesterday it spoke to me so differently.
A son who took all his father's money, squandered it and then lived recklessly. He completely destroys his life, starts feeding pigs just so he can eat and finds himself wishing he ate as good as the pigs did. He said, "I'll go home and ask my father if I can be a servant in his home." Oddly enough that story doesn't sound to unfamiliar in the culture we live in. Happens all the time.
Normally I would chalk it up to be that I was just particularly emotional yesterday because I now have children. But yesterday it was different. It was for the heartbroken parents who have grown children that are far away from Jesus.....for the man or woman who's spouse is so far gone from the truth that they just want to give up. For those that were sitting in my church feeling like they THEMSELVES have messed up so badly that God would never love them. Even myself who sometimes feels like I don't deserve any of this. If people only knew my faults, insecurities and fears....
And then, (like my husband so emotionally and beautifully described) we get to this part.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
But while he was still a LONG. WAY. OFF. He ran to him. Arms open wide. Weeping and rejoicing that his son had come home. Who cares that he had squandered all his money!!! Who cares that he had lived recklessly and probably did unimaginable things!! It just didn't matter. He felt compassion. He got out the best robes. The best food.
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found!"
It just didn't matter. It didn't matter what he had done, where he had done it and everything in between. And as I looked around at our sweet congregation and saw men and women wiping tears away from their eyes, I knew. They too felt what I felt. Brokenness. Grace. Mercy. A grateful heart. Humility for something we so DO NOT deserve, but want and GET from God every single day. A reminder to be more like Jesus with open arms for those in our lives. A reminder that God has forgiven us. A reminder that God loves us.
For the far-away child, wife, husband, sister, mother, brother, friend......Come home running. His arms are open wide. His name is Jesus and He understands.