I find it ironic that the One who tells us over and over again “do not fear” happens to be the One we fear the most.
We are afraid we aren’t good enough for Him.
We are afraid we are disappointing Him.
We are afraid to talk to Him, because we might say the wrong thing.
We are afraid to listen to Him, because He might say the “wrong” thing.
We are afraid to ask Him, because He might tell us to give up everything we’ve ever cared about.
We are afraid that what He wants for us is the exact opposite of what we want for ourselves.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the prodigal son. But recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the Father in the story. We compare ourselves to the son all the time, even the older brother at times as well. But just like any story, every character is important and has something to teach us.
God is the Father. So what can we learn from Him and about Him in this story?
He lets us have what we want.
The son goes to his Father and asks for his entire inheritance, while his dad is still alive. Insensitive much? Imagine your 18 year old child coming to you and saying, I know I’m not supposed to get that money until you’re dead and gone, but can I have it now? Can I? Can I haaaave it?
In no way was this for his best (or ours), but the Father allows it. Sometimes people need to learn lessons the hard way. I bet the son would never have asked the dad, “What would you suggest I do?”
He lets us go. He watches as we take all the good He has for us and walk down the road of destruction. It can’t be easy, but He does give us the freedom to choose.
He waits for us while we are gone.
I can only imagine what the neighbors would have whispered about that family. The father endured what must have been torture, waiting and wishing His son would return. Knowing the unwise and painful decisions he was making. Knowing that he wasn’t only squandering his inheritance, but giving away his soul as well. He waited, hoping and praying that someday he might return.
He comes running when we return.
Imagine running away from home, only to return dirty and poor, smelling of mud and pigs. No one would want to hug you, especially wearing nice, clean clothes. Yet He runs to His child; arms open wide, so grateful for his return that he is unconcerned with the stench.
He celebrates our return, instead of guilting us for our mistakes.
This is my favorite part of the story. I’ve had so many conversations recently with people who are afraid to come home. Afraid to talk to God at all, for fear that He will only tell them all that they are doing wrong and all that they need to sacrifice.
This story shows so clearly God’s heart for us. He gives us the freedom to go and make our own choices, which so often end with us eating with pigs. Yet when we return, He wants to throw a party for us.
What if we believed that? What if instead of avoiding home and living in filth, we were willing to give Him a chance? What if instead of telling you all your mistakes, He just wanted to lavish you with love and throw you a spontaneous party?
He doesn’t need your perfect life and your good deeds. He wants your presence with Him. He wants you to come home. You are invited to the party, even when you’re smelly and unclean. Not only that, He wants to throw the party in your honor.
Don’t live with the pigs. Come home.