“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20-21 NLT)
When Jesus told the story of the prodigal son, He revealed to us the heart of His Father towards you and me.
The father in the parable had two sons, the younger son wanted to be free of his father and demanded his inheritance while his father was still living. When the father complied, the younger son packed everything he had. Having no intention of ever returning home, in the son’s mind, his father was already dead. The Bible says he went to a distant land and began to waste the money he’d been given on “wild living.”
He soon learned when the money is gone, the “friends” are gone. He found himself alone. I’ve been lonely. Perhaps you’re struggling with loneliness even as you’re reading these words. But in his loneliness the young man was finally able to see his father in a very different light. Feeling unworthy to be received as a son, he was willing to be his father’s slave. So he headed home.
That’s when we read one of my favorite verses, that reveals the only time in Scripture when God ran: “Filled with love and compassion, he ran to His son, embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:21 NLT) The son is still trying to deliver the speech he’s rehearsed in his mind, asking his father to take him back, not as a son, but as a slave, so he says, “Father, I have sinned.” Those are four of the most powerful words in the English language.
Sin here literally means “to miss the mark,” and gives us insight into the path of learning how to move from slave to son – by listening to the heart of the father rather than the lies our own heart has concocted.
When I came to Jesus, I felt lost, alone, unworthy, undeserving, but when I knelt in contrition, begging God for forgiveness, it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. For the first time in my life I had hope, purpose and meaning. I finally knew I was alive for a reason. That was nearly sixty years ago.
Today, no one has to tell me I’m unworthy, that I’m undeserving, that I’m not qualified to be God’s son. I know all of that is true, but the glorious, good news is, despite all of that – I am God’s son! Not because of anything I have done, but by virtue of God’s gift of grace alone, through faith in Christ alone.
The truth is, no one deserves the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God. No one can earn it. Everyone is unworthy, just like me and anyone else who has ever followed Jesus. But as with any gift, to receive it you need only open your hands and your heart and accept it. Then spend the rest of your life walking with Jesus and serving Him in gratitude for the life you never allowed yourself to believe was available to a prodigal like you.
However far you’ve strayed, come to your senses. Run into the arms of your waiting Heavenly Father who loves you passionately and has plans for your life that are better than anything you could possibly imagine. Let Him give you purpose, meaning and fulfillment. You need never to be lonely again.
May I be the first to welcome you home?
Blessings, Ed 😊