In the grand scheme of written material, we have only a few words that Jesus actually said. Because they are so few, they are all the more precious and
meaningful. Jesus often taught using parables – short, easy to remember stories that teach an important lesson in faith. Without exception, these stories are portraits of grace that stir our minds and hearts. They are forever relevant keys to growth in kingdom living that challenge our natural inclinations to prejudice, selfishness, judgmentalism, misplaced priorities, and self righteousness. They teach us that when we do acts of mercy, love, and compassion we are truly living in the kingdom of God. Parables teach us that grace is a gift of God to be passed on to all we meet, that forgiveness is not an option, that each person is of equal yet priceless value, and that knowing God is the only treasure that matters. They give us insights to the nature of the Father through the stories of the son.
One of my favorite parables is the Prodigal Son, or more accurately the Gracious Father. The central truth of this story is the Father’s eager forgiveness and unconditional restoration of his wayward child. He had lived so long with the awful gnawing fear that his son was dead. He had relived countless memories of when he was a little boy. He had remembered in detail the funny, sweet things the boy had done. He had imagined his smile and the way laughter just bubbled out of him when he played. He had thought about how he looked when he was asleep and the times he had held him when he was hurt or afraid. Now he was here! He was alive and he was home! Nothing else mattered!
The image of the Father running down the road to meet his son with open arms of love and acceptance takes my breath away. That image stays with me in one of my most precious memories.
Our son returned to Fort Hood, Texas, after a yearlong deployment to Iraq. When his battalion came marching across the parade ground, I spotted him in formation just by the way he walks. When the welcome home speeches were made and the ropes holding back the families were removed, I took off in an all-out sprint! For so long I had lived with the awful fear that I would never see him again. In that year, I had recalled hundreds of sweet memories: the way he smiles, his first steps, stitches in his foot, rocking him to sleep. Now he was here! He was alive and he was home! Nothing else mattered!
So, it is with God the Father. He anguishes over our hurts and our loneliness, our rejection and our sins. But, we are reconciled to Him, because He RUNS to us with open arms of understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. We are home! Nothing else matters!
Reflection – When has the Father run to you with forgiveness, acceptance, and hope?