How many times have you heard the Prodigal Son story? I would guess that it’s one of the more well-known parables from the Bible. As I sat in a church pew several years ago listening to that scripture being read…for maybe the fifteenth or maybe even the fiftieth time…there was something that struck me as if it was the first time I heard it.
What detail hit me like never before? It was the image of the father running to the Prodigal upon his return home. As soon as he spotted his son in the distance, he ran. Why did he run? I believe one reason is that he wanted to leave no doubt in his son’s mind that he was still welcome, valued, and deeply loved. No less welcome, valued, or deeply loved than he was before he left of his own accord on a quest for something better than he thought his father could offer. The father was aware that his son had thought his ways were better than his father’s ways…he ran anyway.
He runs to us too. It’s not just a story. It’s a truth. It’s a promise. In Luke 15, it’s the third of three parables that Jesus Himself told in an attempt to illustrate to a crowd how important, loved, and sought-after all of God’s children are. I can almost imagine Him tripping over His Heavenly feet in His hurry to reach us. Isn’t it mind-boggling to be treasured like that? Especially after we go our own way and purposely sin. Especially when we seemingly look into our Heavenly Father’s eyes and boldly say that our plan is better than His plan.
We are not worthy to be loved to that extent. We are not worthy to have the Creator of the Universe desire to be so intimately involved in our lives…we never will be. But, that’s the way it is. (Thank God.) He is incredibly concerned, caring, and compassionate toward each and every one of us, regardless of our past – regardless of our decisions. It doesn’t matter if they are decisions that completely diminish the importance we place on His plan for our lives – He’ll still run to us. We have a God that still welcomes us, values us, and deeply loves us beyond words.
How can He love us that much? I don’t know. But He loves us as a father that waits in confident expectation for the prodigal to come home so He can lavish him with unmatched love, affection, and undeserved blessings. That I do know. And I never want to forget that. Ever.
It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. We have a God that sincerely wants us to come home. He’s waiting for us. He’s watching for us…and He’s ready to run.