Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So, he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So, he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 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. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘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 15:11–24, NIV 1984).
My Musings – “I have a friend whose son developed an avid interest in baseball. My friend wasn’t interested in baseball at all. But one summer, he took his son to see every major league team play one game. The trip took over six weeks and cost a great deal of money, but it became a powerful bonding experience in their relationship. My friend was asked on his return, ‘do you like baseball that much?’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘but I like my son that much.'” (“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen R. Covey).
As a father of two sons, I can relate. There isn’t much a father would not do for their son, if it was within their means and power. I say, “isn’t much,” rather than “isn’t anything.” There are some things we know that we should not do, because we know they would not be good for them. Saying no, or expressing displeasure is hard, but some things they need to find out for themselves.
Our Heavenly Father does the same. Sometimes He lets us go our own way for a time, as the best way for us to learn what is right and proper. This is where an earthly father might say, “this is going to hurt me a lot more than it hurts you.” In many cases this is mere hyperbole. But not with God. I suspect it does hurt Him. After all, He turned away as His Son hung on the cross.
But no matter how far we fall or wander, no matter how “wild” the living, He is always there to welcome us back with open arms. You may still be “a long way off,” but He’s watching for your return. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).
My Advice – Have you wandered off? All you have to do is change directions. That’s the only way you’ll see His open arms.