“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.” Luke 15:19-20 (NIV)
As a little boy, I idolized my father. I looked like him, shared his sober demeanor, and I wanted to grow up like him. Then he disappeared. I cried every day, “Where’s Daddy?”
Finally, my older brother took me aside to say Daddy’s gone.
My parent’s divorce robbed me of my hero and left me with a lifetime of suppressed grief. Anger simmered beneath the surface and corrupted many of my relationships. Fortunately, God doesn’t leave us in our pain and dysfunction.
The parable of the Prodigal Son reveals the nature of God through the response of a loving Father. It also shows the folly of humanity’s departure from our Father’s house. The great love the Son of God has for us is also on full display.
Imagine this story from the father’s point of view. He is a well-to-do landowner with a home commensurate with his wealth and prestige. Dressed in a long robe and fine leather sandals, he carries the dignity of a successful man as he manages his estate. He loves his son, but the son leaves him.
Time passes so slowly as months turn into years. Without cell phones or postal service, the father languishes in the void left by the person he loves more than life.
Coming home from the fields, the elderly man glances toward the horizon and sees a haggard figure approaching. Though a poor and ragged young man, there is something about his walk that is oddly familiar. Peering into the setting sun, his eyes coming into focus, “My son!” he cries.
The elderly father casts his dignity aside, hikes up his robe, and runs as fast as his sandals can clippidy-clop down the dusty pathway. Weeping uncontrollably, he cries out, “My son, my son.”
Catching the young man in his arms, the father sweeps aside the boy’s contrition. barks out orders to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put my ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and cook it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.” The father is the picture of grace as he welcomes his lost son home. His world overflows with joy as love overwhelms past transgressions.
I am that wayward son walking toward Father God. In my life, I have wasted myself on lessor gods and made poor choices. Coming to myself in the pigpen of my own making, the Holy Spirit silently whispered to me, “Come back to the Father.” Each time, the Lord welcomed me because Jesus paved that road with His sacrifice.
It is always time to run back to the Father. He never tires of us, never gets disgusted at the depths we fall, nor impatient with our lack of progress. He waits, peering down the road for our return. Clippidy-clop He runs toward us weeping with joy. He longs to dress us in the robe of Christ’s righteousness, to place His ring on our finger and declare us His child. Father God will slip the sandals of His peace on our feet.
The JB Phillips translation (1958) translates Romans 8:18-19 “whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own.”
Many of us grew up without a father present. God the Father wants to fill that immense void. I see in this story a father who longs for his son and runs to meet him on the road. Can you see Father God running clippidy-clop toward you? Creation waits for you and me to turn toward the Father and meet Him on the road. Oh, what a party God has planned.
Please pray with me, “Father God, I’m turning to meet You on the road. Thank you for loving me enough to cast aside my sin and love on me. I know I didn’t deserve any of this, but I love You more because of Your graciousness. Help me live confident of Your grace, and thankful for Your mercy. Resting in the Father’s arms, I pray. Amen.”
Dave Holland pastored churches for thirty-eight years before retiring in Destin, Florida. He recently released his new devotional-Bible study based on the Gospel of Luke titled “Extraordinary Jesus: Ignite Your Season of Miracles.” You can get a copy of this book from his website, DaveHolland.org, or at Amazon.com. Pastor Dave is available to preach and teach in churches and conferences. Contact him at DavidvHolland54@gmail.com.