The Beauty of Coming Back

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:20-24

Have you ever done something that you thought you’d never recover from? Made you made a major mistake and had to apologize?

One thing I love about the Bible is that it’s so full of stories of people who mess up, and mess up majorly. And while some of the major Bible heroes made some pretty major mistakes, one of my favorite stories comes from a parable Jesus tells.

Once there was a son who saw the good things in his life as a hindrance to what he really wanted. The son wanted to go out and live, to see the world and do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. So he went to his father and demanded his portion of the inheritance. His father gave him his portion, and the son went and spent it all, and let’s just say he didn’t make very good choices. When famine struck the land, the son found himself far from home, without a job, and flat broke, not a penny to his name. He ended up getting a job feeding pigs, and was so broke and hungry, he genuinely wanted to eat the slop that the pigs were eating. Can you say YUCK?!

Luke says that “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

If this story played out the way it should have, the son would return home and the father would still be angry, upset, and might even refuse to let his son back in the house. He technically had every right to do these things seeing that his son hurt him, embarrassed the family name, and blew half of the father’s money. But something pretty incredible happens next:

The father runs out to the son. This was a very big deal culturally. The effort of running for the sake of the son speaks more humility than we can understand. He would have had to lift his robe (showing his feet) and get his feet dirty running down the road. This would not happen - big yikes - especially running to a son who squandered his inheritance (the hard work of the father). The father comes to the son, hugs him and kisses him, and throws a party celebrating his return, saying “ For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”

Did you know this is how God feels about us when we sin and turn back to Him? When I’ve made a mess of things, my first instinct is to run and hide, to try and fix things and make myself clean before coming to God so I can say “See, I know I messed up, but look! I fixed it! I’m all better.”

God doesn’t ask us to do this. Instead all He asks us to do is come home, turn back to Him, and He will embrace us.

No matter what you’ve been through or what you’ve done, God is longing for you, waiting eagerly for your return. You don’t have to clean yourself up; you don’t have to “fix” anything. Simply turn, call out to Him, and receive His great love.

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