If you have been a part of a church, or went to Sunday School as a child, you are probably familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son. In the book of Luke, Yeshua (Jesus) is telling the story to people who have gathered to listen to Him speak.

The story was about 2 sons of a wealthy man; the younger wanted his portion of the inheritance to spend as he chose. He was not unlike many young people intent on partying and having fun, giving little consideration to the consequences of his actions. As the story goes he is given his share, he leaves home for the big city, and there he squanders his inheritance. He had “sinned” big time, lost everything, so going home was not an option, and even if it was, he may have chosen to stay in the far off land so that he wouldn’t have to tell his father what he had done. There was every possibility that he would be disowned if he hadn’t been already.

The young man got a job slopping the pigs, and for a Jew this was hitting rock bottom; he had become the lowest of the low. This young man had come to the end of himself, he was starving, penniless, and lonely.

He reasoned that even his father’s servants had it better than he did; at least they had food to eat, had a roof over their heads, and were not slopping pigs to squeak by in life. His solution was to head for home and offer to be a slave in his father’s house. He had sinned against his father and against God: why would either even consider taking him back into the fold? And so, off he went toward home. With me so far??

Here’s what happened: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him warmly. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son — ’ 22 but his father said to his slaves, ‘Quick, bring out a robe, the best one, and put it on him; and put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet; 23 and bring the calf that has been fattened up, and kill it. Let’s eat and have a celebration! 24 For this son of mine was dead, but now he’s alive again! He was lost, but now he has been found!’ And they began celebrating.” (Luke 15:20-24 The Complete Jewish Bible)

The moral of the story most are familiar with is that the lost son had returned, it’s all good now, we get to party. That’s what it’s like when we come to our senses, quit “sinning” and return to the church……at least that’s what I was taught.

But a lot of people miss the coolest part! The father was scanning the horizon every day that his son was gone hoping for the return of his beloved child. And I know that because the father would have no way of knowing when his son was going to return – remember there were no cell phones, facebook or email! The father kept watch daily, hoping beyond hope….. “But while he (the son) was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He (the father) ran and threw his arms around him (the son) and kissed him warmly.” Awesome word picture!! Let that sink in for a moment.

Before the son could even get a word of explanation or apology out of his mouth, his father nestled his son against his chest and smothered him with kisses. Wouldn’t we do the same for a child of ours? The father was overcome with joy and relief; his lost son was home. He really wasn’t focused on his son’s explanation or apology; he was ready to celebrate the son’s return and called for the best he had – a robe to clothe him, shoes for his feet, the family signet ring, effectively reinstating him as a family member, and the killing of the best calf for a celebration.

In my mind the reaction of the father is more significant than that of the son. I’d give heading toward home a shot if I had been the one starving, penniless, and lonely in the hopes my dad would let me sleep in the servant’s quarters. I’ve said it before, we know when we have screwed up; we really don’t need someone to point it out. Can I get a “heck ya”? What couldn’t be counted on was the father’s response, and respond he did. He ran toward his son and wrapped his son in his arms.

So the moral of the story is no matter what you have done in your life, no matter how far away from God you have run, He is scanning the horizon for you every moment of every day, hoping beyond hope, that you will want to have a relationship with Him. We don’t need to be afraid to go to Him, He loves us; He LOVES YOU!

Relationship is important to God. Life can be hard, scary sometimes, lonely. God knows us intimately, and He loves us…..no matter what.

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