"So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20
This is such a perfect picture of God's love for us. "While he was still a long way off...." I think of two fathers waiting. God, and the father in this parable. God has been waiting for us to come back since the beginning, and this father, ever since his son flew out the door with high hopes and full pockets. I think of a father's broken heart. I think of him going about his daily work, with always one eye cast toward that road....I think he held out hope that someday the vision that he carried in his heart, of a lone figure walking toward home would come true.
And then it did, and that was all that mattered. It didn't matter how long he'd been gone, or how many foolish things he had done, or even how much he'd sinned. His father didn't make him feel worse for coming home, heap guilt on him. The son did that all by himself and the father knew it. "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." Luke 15:21
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the other son too. The faithful one. But I wonder, was he really all that faithful? Maybe there was some hidden resentment there all along. Resentment that gave birth to full bloom anger when he saw how overjoyed the father was at his brother's returning.
My Dad and I were talking about this just the other night when I was home.....he said something I had never thought of concerning the son that stayed. He said, "You know, that is just the attitude we have for people who come back to the church sometimes,"But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends." Luke 15:29 It's true. While God welcomes the prodigal with open arms, we sometimes are not as welcoming as we could be; we hold back just a little bit because, after all, we want to see if it is really genuine!
Thank you God, for loving us with an open arms kind of love. A God who waits.....and help me to never forget all the times you have welcomed me back without reservation.
"But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light." Micah 7:7,8