“He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 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. 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. Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.” Luke 15:16-25
Garbage looked good. He longed to eat those pods that he was feeding the pigs.
He assessed his situation, perhaps even as he was knee deep in the pig slop. The young man suddenly came to himself. “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, but I am starving to death!”
Bread, sustenance was readily available at his father’s house. He had left home where there had been abundance. He had taken much of his father’s wealth and squandered it. But maybe he could go back and be one of the servants. Maybe there would be some place he could serve.
He developed his plan as he got up to return home. “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.”
Then there was the father. He had watched his son leave. His heart would have been so heavy as he noticed the hurried gait of his own dear boy racing toward the road. His son couldn’t wait to leave. The pain of that was terrible. Did this broken-hearted father wonder if he could survive the pain or did he feel like he might actually die under the weight of it? His dear son was gone.
Days wore into weeks and perhaps even years. Each day there was that time when this burdened father scanned the road, praying for safety, praying for a return, praying his boy was still alive. But each day as he scanned, he relived the day, that terrible day when his son had left. The emptiness was unbearable. He feared he would never see his son again.
Then one day as he stood staring, he saw someone walking a long way off. The gait was not hurried. It seemed heavy, the shoulders were hunched, head down, and yet somehow it looked familiar. Did this father shake his head to clear it? Did he rub his eyes to get a better look? Could it be?
He didn’t wait until the figure got closer. He had seen that walk so many times before and he knew. This father dropped everything and ran. He RAN! It was his boy!
Do we need to come home? Is there something in the world that has drawn us away? Has what the world offered seemed good and yet we have come to the realization that we are surrounded by garbage? Maybe we are even a long way away.
Here is what we can know. The Heavenly Father is watching, waiting, every day scanning the horizon for us to come home. He will not even wait until we are all the way there; He will run…RUN to meet us. We just have to start toward home.
The reunion was amazing. This father felt such compassion. It was not anger. It was not condemnation. It was love, and when he reached him, he embraced him and kissed him.
This son began the speech that he had rehearsed over and over again as he walked, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
That was as much as he was able to say, because his father interrupted, instructing the 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.”
Dead to alive, lost to found, it was miraculous. This picture of coming home is amazing. When we come to Christ we are covered by His robe of righteousness. He adorns and clothes us with His grace. We move from eternal death to eternal life. And we can sing with the songwriter, “I once was lost but now I’m found.”
Do we need to head home today?