Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. 13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself…18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “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.
Luke 15: 12-13, 17-19, 20 (NLT)
To this day, I can remember my Dad sitting in the stands as the game was about to begin. I was playing Little League Baseball in New Haven, Connecticut as a ten-year-old on the ten to twelve year old team.
I can still see him sitting there as I took ground balls at third base in our pre-game infield warmups. I knew exactly where he was sitting when I came up to bat each time, and took my position at third-base each inning throughout the entire game. It is forever burned in my memory—but not for the best of reasons.
I remember it because it was the only game I can remember him coming to that year, and it was the last game he came to watch me play for any year afterward through my high school playing days and beyond.
You’ve heard the story of the Prodigal Son before, I’m sure. Where the younger son requested his share of the father’s estate—usually one-third. And even though there seemed to be a disrespect in the younger son’s request, the father didn’t argue but instead gave him his share of the property and the son left home.
You know the rest of the story. The younger son soon ran through his inheritance and he finished up by feeding pigs in a pigpen, a task that was forbidden under Jewish law, while also “longing to fill his stomach with the very pods that the pigs were eating.” He had hit rock bottom—he was in the pigpen.
But then the scripture says that “he came to his senses,” or he came back to himself, and decided to go home and plead to his father to be taken back. Through all of his failures, and fearing rejection when he returned, there was still something inside him which caused him pick himself up, out of the pigpen, and begin the journey home.
He knew what he’d say to his dad. He’s sorry, made a huge mistake. But he wonders if his dad even remembers what he looks like or misses him. He wonders if what he is prepared to say will gain his dad’s love. He wonders if he is worthy of his love.
But when he was a long way off, his dad sees him and begins to run to him. Men didn’t run in those days, even this younger son knew that. His dad must be mad and that’s why he’s running; so the son figures he’d better start talking right away as his dad gets within hearing distance and before he gets within striking distance.
And so the son starts to begin his speech wanting to say “I’m no longer worthy.” But before he can utter a word, his father grabs him, hugs him and kisses him. And then he begins to set in motion a celebration. His son is back.
And to the father he was always worthy. Not because of anything the son had done to earn it, but simply because he was his son. The father had been sitting at the window, standing and looking out the door, waiting and watching for his son to come home.
He had been to every one of his son’s games when he was younger and as he grew, knew exactly what he looked like even from a distance, how he ran, how he would react to mistakes, his errors and wrong decisions. He knew what his son would try to say to Him.
That’s the God who loves us. That’s the God who sent His Son to the cross for us. That’s the God who is with us no matter where we are—on the ballfield, in the pigpens, in whatever setting we find ourselves and whatever uncertainty and difficulty we might face.
That’s the God who forgives others who fall short in their responsibilities to us, and relationships with us; others whom we need to forgive as well—just as God forgives us and them.
That’s also the God who is the example of the one we need to try to be like for others, no matter what happens to us, or what we may have experienced in life.
That’s a pretty neat God!
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2017. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.