Luke 15:11-14, 20
And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished…
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Coming up the stairs I could hear the sound of the television and knew exactly where dad would be sitting. I quietly giggled as I made my silly plan and pictured his smile when, startled, he’d see my head pop up over the railing. It’s a little game we play every time I come home and almost every time I reach the top of the stairs. It’s a way to say “I love you” at a time in our relationship when words are hard for my dad to hear. I think I’d do just about anything to make this man smile and I’m pretty sure the same is true for him. I cannot begin to imagine his heartbreak if ever I were to look at him and say, “I wish you were dead. I don’t want you, dad, only what you have to give me.”
That is essentially what the younger son said when he asked for his share of his father’s estate, gathered it all up and left for a distant country. What kind of father listens as a child rejects his presence in favor of his treasure? And, what kind of dad consents to give his son what he asks for knowing it will shatter his own heart? As I trouble over why this father doesn’t knock some holy sense into his child, I find myself invited to notice an incredible revelation of God rising up from the story. Curious, I lean in close and finally see it, a reflection of the Divine heart beating with beautiful love, too big to contain — pure, powerful and free!
This is the heart that listens to us when we ask for what we should not or when we leave home to seek fullness in a foreign land. This is the Father who waits for our return and runs with abandon to kiss and embrace us!
There are lots of ways to leave home lest, like me, you have trouble identifying with the younger son. When I am willful, fearful, or fretful I can tell I’m on my own somewhere far from the Father. Sometimes I hide and other times I leave in search of life a part from God whether in front of a tv show, a balance sheet or a banana split.
To be honest, if I pay close attention to my prayers I realize with tremendous sorrow, that like the younger son, I often want what God can give me more than I want God.
That’s hard to write and hurts to know. Yet, this is where the Father finds me. This is where I feel His heart beat with beautiful love. This is where I am gathered up and forgiven by the One who watches for my return and runs to welcome me home!
“Father, I want to want You most! Thank you for your faithful heart and compassion for your children. Help me find my way home whenever and however I wander from your heart. Amen.”
What about you?
Are you learning to want God? Most?
What kinds of things draw you away from “home”? Away from the Father’s heart?
Have you experienced the Father’s love for you?
Do you know that God watches and waits for you?
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