“I sit here in the mud, wallowing in my own self-pity. No one cares, no one listens and everyone has turned on me. Since the money ran out, friends or who I thought were my friends, where are they now? They have even forsaken me. I have lived life to my pleasing and where has it taken me? A life that I thought was fun and full of riches. I have traveled, pleased myself in pleasures most anyone would wish they could do. I have taken money that rightfully belonged to me, yet I foolishly messed up. I spent it on dumb things that only brought ecstasy for the moment. This created a monster and a hunger to crave those things in which I could see no end. Now I sit here homeless, unloved and hungry. How did I end up like this? I am at my end, where do I turn? I hate my past foolishness and myself. There is no one who will understand me nor expect me to change. Can I change or how can I change?”
There was a man who had two sons. He was very rich and had an inheritance plan for each one of his sons. One son came to his father and wanted his part early. The Father gave his son what he asked for. The son set out to enjoy his part of his father’s blessings in what he felt he deserved. He took the land and the money and squandered it in a very short time as well as quickly ran out of all provisions. This left him lonely, hungry and in misery.
When the son realized there was nothing left in his life for meaning, he realized the state he was in. This is the first step and example for all people who continue to go and go and go without goals, wise decision and a self pleasing appetite. This realization is a crossroad. Some people reach a crossroad early and some continue to travel life in sorrow refusing to change. When the Lord Spirit moves upon someone, the person will feel the tug in a way of realizing there is more to life. The person perceives God might possibly bring him a life of at least a little happiness because He has been exposed to God before. Just like the man with the son. The wayward son realized that even his father’s servant was being fed. He knew he could return back to his father even as a servant if he had to. This was an example of letting go of pride. The son made a decision once he realized to himself there was nothing in this world that would lead him to happiness. His way, the highway was not the answer. To return to his father meant he would have to go in a direction without stopping to even think about it. The direction and goal would be to get to his father. There would be lots of distractions along the way and much temptation but he had the determination to run into a father’s home.
‘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
Just as the father in this story met him with unexpected tokens of his forgiving love, in an instant he expressed joy. For every act of willing disobedience, every selfish choice, every mistake, our Heavenly Father wants to run to us with compassion and embrace us again in His love. The love of a father transforms the lives of sons and daughters.
The father has not forgot his son nor has he shown anger or disapproval of his son’s lifestyle. I often wonder if the father often cried or prayed for his son’s safe return. Did he worry or show any emotion while his son was away or did he have faith in God that his son would return? It is apparent he knew his son would return because he was looking for him. He was constantly searching as far down the road as he could see hoping that his son was coming home each day. How did I know this? He ran to meet him, to love him and to redeem him. He knows where his son has been yet he didn’t care for he pushed those things aside. He was full of compassion and love for a child who was lost but now was found. The son was hungry and ashamed, expecting a harsh voice and a punishment of slavery without his father’s forgiveness yet instead he is shown mercy and grace.
“Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Luke 15:22-24
This type of love that his father’s heart expressed is much like our Heavenly Father. This story is an exact description of agape love. We can always return to our Heavenly Father, time after time, without fear or rejection. We don’t deserve anything yet our Father gives us His love and forgiveness. He shows mercy and a cause to celebrate when we return to Him with a willingness to change. He runs to us with compassion, eager to forgive and be reunited. We should be afraid to walk home because the road may seem long yet it is not because the Father will meet us before we reach the end of the road. During this time we cannot refuse His amazing love. He wishes not to punish us but rejoices we have come to Him. He strengthens my soul to turn from sin and follow him faithfully with gratitude and thankfulness. This amazing story cuts right to my soul with the wonder of this abiding love for us even if we have rejected him. His heart still loves us even when we fail miserably. We cannot comprehend this type of love since we so dramatically punish those who are unwilling to obey us, or leave us but God is not like this.
Our heavenly father waits, looking and searching for us daily to run to Him. He is full of sympathy and understanding. He never abandons us but is always willing to open his arms and love us for who we are and for where we have been. We are His children and we are His love. The Father’s heart is a heart we all should be eager to obtain. This is true love.