“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. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
Jesus’ description of the father in this famous parable of the prodigal son gives us a glimpse of the HEART of the Father for us his children.
The church is full of younger sons who would wander from the love of God every time he does not meet their expectations. Sons who are self-willed, somewhat disrespectful and independent-minded. Sons who just wish to live life on their own terms and have little or no regard for the feelings of their fathers. They are determined to venture out on their own and enjoy their freedom without any restrictions, constraints or boundaries that they are expected to respect and adhere to.
But when they run into problems and make a mess of their lives, they will begin to “come to their senses” and reflect upon the “home” they have left. (v.17). They long for the life they took for granted in the father’s house. They wonder if they will be accepted and welcomed home, knowing the terrible wrong they have done toward the father. They are filled with shame and grief.
As fathers, are we bitter and angry toward the prodigals? Have we “written them off” and moved on? Or are we longing for their return? The father in the parable must have been looking for his son’s return daily, praying the boy would have a change of heart and mind. The moment he saw him while he was a long way off, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
The reception of the father must have been a complete unanticipated shock and surprise to the son. The son never imagined the love the father still had for him after so long away from home.
People are desperately looking for fathers and mothers of the faith who are able to embrace, love, empathize, be present and forgive freely. It is a love without conditions, something of which the world knows little.
May the Lord raise up more fathers that are full of compassion for “prodigals” and are all prepared to celebrate when they return rather than to condemn. To become this kind of person does not come naturally. It comes when our hearts are personally touched and transformed by the Father.
(1) Do we have this kind of heart for our children, especially the more rebellious ones?
(2) How willing are we to embrace them, love them and forgive them when they “return HOME?”
Pray for the heart of our Heavenly Father for our children. That the Lord will hear the heartbeat of the Father for our children. Pray that our homes will be so filled with the Father’s love that our children will always feel welcomed, accepted and loved. Amen.