The Way Home

“So he got up and went to his father. 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

Many of us are compelled and moved by the story of the “Prodigal Son” in Luke 15.  If you’re not familiar with it I’ll simply ask and allow you to go and read for yourselves.  But, it is the story of a young man who became dissatisfied with living in his father’s home and doing things his father’s way.  He thought his own way was better and would probably be a lot more fun.  So, he asked his father for his share of his inheritance (which normally could only be received after the father’s death) and he went out to find his own way in the world.  The young dude lived it up and had a high ol’ time for a while, until the cash dried up and all his so-called friends took off.  The end result finds him homeless, and grubbing in the mire, competing with pigs for just a scrap of food.  It finally occurs to the son that maybe it wasn’t so bad living in his father’s house after all.  I mean even the field hands and servants on his dad’s ranch fared better than where he currently found himself.  So, he devises a plan and rehearses a speech and sets out (with his tail between his legs) to ask his father’s permission to return home, even if it means he’ll have to live there as one of the hired hands.

Now, that is when we come to the verse in the story (V.20) that is most intriguing to me.  It says that while the young man is “still a long way off” his father sees him.  How!?  I mean, it is very likely that quite a time has passed and it’s also very likely that the son’s appearance was probably very different from when he left so even from a not so great distance he could have been hard to recognize.  Could it be that day after day since his boy’s departure, the father may have stood out by the road waiting and staring off into the distance, watching and hoping and praying for his son’s return?  And then, as he sees him in the distance, the father does an even more dramatic thing.  He takes off sprinting up the road to meet him and when does he throws his arms around him and embraces him joyfully.  Somehow, we might imagine he could have had the attitude of, “He made his own bed, let him lie in it.”  And when he saw him coming back the thought might have occurred to him, “Yep.  I knew it!  Just as I thought.  Here he comes.  Let’s see what kind of excuses he’s got to offer now.”  Some of us in the father’s position may have stood there drumming our fingers on the fence post, tapping our foot, with a raised eye-brow and waited for the boy to come walking with his head bowed, so we could say, “I told you so.”  And frankly, I feel sure this was what the young prodigal expected, because that was what he deserved.  Instead, the father expressed in his actions and in his attitude, everything other than what was expected.  What he did from the this point in the story on was precisely why Jesus felt the need to tell it.  What the father showed was the model of the mercy, the grace and the love of our heavenly Father… the Perfect Father!

The prodigal son is a picture of each and every one of us.  We think our way is better than The Way.  We believe our truth is better than The Truth.  We struggle to discover a way of life that is better, easier and more fulfilling than The Life.  And our good, Father allows us to explore the boundaries of our will and our plans, patiently waiting until each of us discovers that our own hearts have lied to us.  Each of us in our own way find ourselves eventually scrapping with the hogs for a morsel of happiness and self-fulfillment.  Oh!  That all us could inevitably come to a place, like the prodigal son, when we finally “come to our senses,” (v. 17) but sadly many of us never do.  Too many of us though, filled with pride, and thinking that God is waiting to rub our faces in it and say, “I told you so,” stubbornly refuse to get up and turn our faces toward home.

Our Father is waiting by the fence post at the end of the road down which we originally departed.  He is not waiting to give you a butt whoopin’.  He is not waiting to say, “I told you so,” or to say, “Sorry, you had your chance and you blew it!”   He is patiently waiting…watching intently…looking expectantly, with a pail of clean water and a towel to wash away the grime of this world from our feet and faces.  He has the ring and the robes of sonship waiting for us to come home.  If only we would pick our heads up from our shame long enough to look down the road toward where Jesus is, we’d see Him running to meet us with His arms out-stretched.  Do we deserve such a reception?  Could we possibly earn our way back into our Father’s kingdom?  No!  But, that is what makes His grace so everlastingly amazing.  That is what makes His love so infinitely immeasurable.

The road home is not so long as we may think.  Perhaps it is only so far as it might take to turn around and take that first step.  Maybe you think you’re so lost you don’t know the way home.  Or maybe your waiting for a special invitation.  Well here it is…

 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” -Jesus (John 14:6-7)


2 Responses to “The Way Home”

  1. 1 Tom Toby
    December 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Well written. I would like your permission to share.

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