“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.’ So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.”
(Luke 15:17-24, New Living Translation)
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
(1 John 3:1, English Standard Version)
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalm 103:10-14, English Standard Version)
Today’s Reading: Luke 15
“Maybe we should call Coach,” someone blurted out. In hindsight, that would have been the responsible thing to do, but at age nineteen, I wouldn’t describe my friends or myself as responsible. Fun, yes. But certainly not responsible.
You see, we were running late to our game. To make matters worse, we still had to cross a border and drive another ninety minutes — through the middle of standstill traffic.
Beyond being responsible, calling Coach would have been the rational thing to do. Instead, my friends and I turned up the music like that would get us there faster.
We didn’t realize the seriousness of our inaction until after we had arrived during the fourth inning of a seven-inning baseball game. Somehow, we failed to recognize the gravity of the fact that our car contained three of the team’s key players: the starting pitcher, shortstop and center fielder. Our tardiness left our team severely shorthanded. For a coach who loves to win, this was a nightmare.
Racing to the dugout, we expected to be yelled at, maybe even suspended. But our coach didn’t yell. He didn’t acknowledge us directly at all. For the final three innings, we sat on the bench and listened to him say things to our teammates like, “Nice try. At least you arrived on time!” The indirect scolding was worse than anything we had imagined. We felt so ashamed.
I think back on this scene from the past and chuckle at my immaturity. But more importantly, I rejoice. I rejoice because the way God responds to my rebellion and negligence is so radically different from what I experienced with my coach!
Rather than embarrassing or disengaging from His children in their rebellion and failure, God is portrayed as a father who longingly waits for his son’s return. And instead of feeling disgusted by all the son has squandered, you can imagine that the father’s heart skips a beat, with mixed relief and delight at the sight of his boy. In Jesus’ words, “His father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
What about you? Does the picture you paint of God more closely resemble the father in Jesus’ story or my coach?
Whether you have ignored your responsibility or have actively run away from God, Jesus’ message is clear: “You can come back home!” The Father is waiting for you. His shoes are already tied, and He’s ready to run to you at the first glimpse of your rolling in — even if you’re four innings late
How does this passage challenge your view of the Father?
In what ways do you resemble the son in Jesus’ story? Take a breath and confess this to God, knowing that He’s celebrating your steps toward Him and that He’s excited to welcome you back home!
What is God’s discipline? Explore more here.
Thomas Rodrigues serves as a volunteer with Cru® in Queens, New York, but he was born and raised in Montreal, Québec. Some of his favorite things about being a Cru staff member include summer and spring break missions, teaching and doing the hard work of evangelism. In his free time, he loves watching sports, staying active, drinking good coffee and relaxing on lazy Saturday mornings.
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