“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”
— Luke 15:20
Do you remember the last time you waited to see someone dear to you? Perhaps your best friend from childhood visited you from a faraway place. Maybe a child came home from college. Whoever it was, how did you feel when that person finally arrived?
The joy we feel at a reunion with a cherished family member or friend is just the tiniest reflection of our heavenly Father’s joy when one of His lost children returns to Him. We get a wonderful picture of this in the parable of the Prodigal Son. When the son returns home, the father runs to greet him and welcomes him with open arms; so great was the father’s love for his child.
The prodigal had finally realized the frivolity of leaving his father’s house. He recognized the error of his ways. As he arose and made his way home, his father waited and watched. The father’s hair had now turned gray, and his heart had long been broken. Nevertheless, he sat on his rooftop, looking and yearning and waiting for his beloved son to return.
After waiting for so long, one day the father saw a head rise up over the hill, then a torso, then a body; and even though the person was clothed in rags, he recognized the gait. It was his son. The father rushed down the stairs; made his way out of the house; and, to the amazement of all the servants, took off running.
Some sinners say they’ll repent someday . . . one of these days or when they lie on their deathbeds. But every day they wait, they put off the tremendous reunion that awaits them. God waits to take them in at the slightest indication that they want to come home. To say, “I am going to turn to Christ next week” or “next month” or “tomorrow” means only that the sinner will spend that much more time in spiritual squalor while the Father’s love and the homecoming celebration wait.
Ah, dear prodigal, you who suppose you have sunk so deeply into the mire of the far country that God would never want to set His eyes on you again, Jesus has delineated for you a perfect picture of God’s unfathomable love, if you just turn to God once again, in true confession and repentance. He’ll be there, running toward you to embrace you and welcome you home.