Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“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.” Luke 15: 20 (NIV)
It is one of the most dramatic and hope-filled lines in all of scripture. Carefully woven within Christ’s parable of the “Prodigal (or Lost) Son”, it is one of the clearest and most accurate verses depicting the nature and grace of the God of the universe—our Creator.
And yet it seems so often to be nothing more than words to us.
A good story that seems so far from anything that could be a part of our lives.
The picture of a God Who runs to us, throws His arms around us and kisses us.
Even if we were able to envision the idea of God running versus our usual images of sitting, standing, walking amongst the billowy clouds of heaven which our mind’s eye paints—God running to us is another leap of faith altogether.
And as we sit here together on this beautiful morning on the threshold of yet another potentially long, hot summer, I know it is one of the hardest concepts for you and for me to embrace fully into the daily living of our lives. Perhaps if we are compared to the younger son in the story—if we can get beyond the idea of God really running—maybe we can imagine Him running to us if He ran to that wayward son. A son who squandered his inheritance, took work feeding pigs in a distant land, longing to eat what he fed the pigs—yet no one would even give him that.
If God would run to him—surely He would run to us.
That’s where our thinking goes awry—when we begin to compare ourselves to others in trying to find room for ourselves within God’s everlasting and eternal arms. It’s merit versus God’s grace. It’s you and me feeling as though we need to do something to earn God’s love. Merit versus grace.
And sadly, that feeling is born out of years of childhood and beyond—even with parents, spouses and others that hung in there until the end—which determine whether we feel we warrant a place in God’s arms. Years of frowns, spankings, angry words, smirks, withholding affection and abandonment—with and without departure—have left too many of us believing that we always have to do something to receive a smile, some love, an affirming word, a pair of open arms.
Years during which we were too often told—directly or through devastating subtlety—that someone else could do something better. We began to believe and perceive others as more deserving than we, and then, once again, we fell into the trap of believing that God wouldn’t run to us. To many of us, the story of the Prodigal Son is good—but it’s just wishful thinking—the God of the universe isn’t going to run to us. We don’t deserve it.
And if the truth be told, if God’s running to us, or not, were dependent upon what we deserved—God would run to none of us.
But as the story points out, it not about what we deserve, but how God sees us. It’s a message of God’s love for us—totally undeserved. Totally unmerited. And totally available—always—from a God Who loves us, and from a God Who runs to us.
Phillips, Craig and Dean sang a song written by Barry Hester and John Parenti entitled “When God Ran”, in part which shares the following reminder:
“Almighty God, The Great I Am, Immovable Rock,
Omnipotent, Powerful, Awesome Lord.
Victorious Warrior, Commanding King of Kings,
Mighty Conqueror…and the only time…
The only time I ever saw him run,
Was when…He ran to me,
He took me in His arms, held my head to His chest,
Said ‘My son’s come home again!’
Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes,
With forgiveness in His voice He said
‘Son, do you know I still love you?’
He caught me by surprise—When God ran…to me.”
Get the picture? God running to you!
Then believe it, and, more importantly, live like you believe it!
It’s a picture worth keeping and framing—for today and everyday for the rest of your life.
In His Name—Scott