“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants 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 servants.’ 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.’ So they began to celebrate.”
Luke 15:17-24 (NIV)
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Being a parent is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences. Unfortunately, there is no “How to be a Good Parent” manual or “Surviving Parenthood for Dummies” guideline. This means that sometimes in spite of our best intentions our children take it upon themselves to go off on their own and make dubious decisions which often result in situations requiring parental intervention.
My son Nathan has brought me great joy and pride; yet there have been times when he left me so bitterly disappointed it physically hurt. These painful moments find me complaining to my heavenly father about children who insist on touching the stove to feel the heat along with any other frustration I can remember to mention all within the same prayer.
Recently however, as I was having a “please-do-not-let-me-kill-this-child-Lord” experience, God made me pause mid-scream to reflect on my personal relationship with Him. As my daddy/parent, how many times had I as His child disappointed Him? Did I think of how hurt He must be when I sacrifice spending time with Him to do something else which appears more urgent or important but in reality isn’t? Or what about the times I consciously and intentionally take a short cut or stray from the beaten path only to find myself lost and confused? If I felt so much pain when Nathan disappointed me, how much more pain must God experience as Father of millions of us? Does He ever get tired and want to give up? How does He keep it all together?
The bible contains many stories of God’s unconditional love for His children. He performs miracles on our behalf, helps us to cross the Red Seas of life and sends armies to defeat our enemies. But although the bible also tells of instances where we had to be disciplined for not obeying God’s word, I could not find one example where He came right out and said: “My child, I am so very disappointed in you.” Think about how sad He must have felt when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, or when Peter denied Him three times, or when David lusted after Bathsheba – how does a parent recover from so much betrayal? Lucky for us, we can trust in the knowledge provided in Luke Chapter 15 verses 11-32.
Our God is like the father in the story of the prodigal son. He is not any father, He is OUR Abba Father who loves us enough to not only wait until we come to our senses but to take it one step further and welcome us back home to Him with open arms … over and over and over again.