Sooner or later, we all get a little jacked up.
What I mean is, we can all remember a time we chose to do something that seemed like an awesome idea at the time…and had really terrible results.
That’s why one of the most famous stories in the Bible is the story of the Prodigal Son.
The story goes something like this: there was a wealthy father who had two sons. His younger son wanted to get away from him and get out on his own. So he asked for his portion of the inheritance, something that usually didn’t happen until a father died. Then he moved far away and squandered his inheritance on excessive living (prodigal living). He ended up in a really bad spot, totally bankrupt and abandoned by all his friends. He had to hit rock bottom before he finally decided, “I’ve got to go back to my dad.”
What we don’t realize is his father had been waiting for him to return every day since he’d left. It’s a beautiful picture. This son who’s wasted his life heads home, and the father runs to him and embraces him.
Now, in Jesus’ culture, fathers didn’t run…It wasn’t like today where it’s common to see dads out jogging. Being the head of a household carried a level of formality with it that we’re unfamiliar with today. This was a big deal.
But this is just who God the Father is.
Here’s the reality:
Some of us have prodigal children.
Others of us are prodigal children.
What we need to remember is this: when we find ourselves away from the Father, it might be fun for a season, but ultimately it becomes dehumanizing. We see that in the story of the prodigal son. What I mean is, when we live in a way that is not God’s best for us we undermine our own humanity. We end up undermining everything that is core to who God called us to be, everything that is beautiful and significant about us as people gets worn down by lavish living. And then we become only pale versions of the vibrant people God designed us to be.
When we return home to our Father in heaven, there’s so much joy in heaven! The Bible says that when one sinner repents, when one person who has rebelled against God turns away from the rebellion and back to God, all of heaven rejoices.
If you have a prodigal – if your son or daughter or loved one is away – take a moment right now, and just pray for them to return home to God and to you.
And if you are a prodigal, if you’re away from your family and the Lord and making choices that might end up being harmful to you down the line, I just want you to turn around and go back home. That might sound intimidating, but here’s the thing: your Father in heaven is waiting for you – not to judge you or punish you! He’s waiting to welcome you with open arms.
Regardless of whether you are the prodigal or know a prodigal, let’s not lose hope. God has already run to you in Jesus to embrace you, to clean you up, and to send you back out into the world in Jesus’ name.