March 31st 2009

A Father’s Heart Of Love

“Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 (Phillips)

In the past I have received letters from people who would like to “come home to God” but are afraid they have left it too late, or that they are not good enough. They believe that repentance and salvation is not for the likes of them. Yet nothing could be further from the truth!

Jesus emptied himself of all his glory and came in flesh to seek and save those who were lost. In fact, He told a parable which we call “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11 – 32), that demonstrates just how much God is ready and willing to welcome back any and all who want to come to Him, no matter who they are, and no matter what they have done.

Let me tell this parable in my own words:
The young Jewish man in the story asks for his portion of the father’s estate, leaves home and blows all of this wealth on “the good life”; finally ending up working for a gentile farmer, feeding pigs in a field! To make matters worse, there is also a famine in the land. Hungry and alone, this boy decides to get up and go back home to his father. Here in the field, he has decided to ask for the opportunity to work off his debt–in other words, to repay his father all he owes him in the hope that then they can be reconciled. He was tired, hungry, sad, ragged, barefoot and smelling of pig manure as he trudged slowly toward the village where he grew up. How would he be received? No doubt this young man was worried about what lay ahead of him.

The grey haired old man gazed off into the distance from the flat roof of his farmhouse, straining his eyes for some sign of a solitary traveller approaching the village. His heart had been heavy ever since his youngest son had rejected his love and left home. Suddenly his heart almost stopped. There on the dusty road to the village was a lone figure. He recognised that walk. Tears welled up in his eyes. The father scrambled down from the roof and, tucking up his long robes, this elderly gentleman, who, all of his adult life had walked with dignity in public, ran to meet his son.

In Middle Eastern culture, men of his stature never run in public, it is humiliating for them to do so. Paying no attention to the filth and the rags, or the smell of pigs, he sees only this thin, sad, barefoot and weary son. With tears running down his face, the father wraps him in his arms and kisses him over and over again! He is then quickly clothed in new garments, given the family signet ring and has sandals placed on his feet because only slaves are barefoot, and he is a son.

Overwhelmed by this unexpected love, the son realises he can never pay for this reconciliation, he just accepts it and that’s what we all do with our Heavenly Father! Here we see the Father’s heart of love; do we think we don’t deserve that? Are we afraid the Father won’t love us in the condition we’re in?

The truth is, we can come home to our Father in our filthy rags, knowing he will run to us and clothe us in garments of salvation and restore us to His family. Don’t be afraid to step out on the road, don’t be afraid to say “I will arise and go to my Father”. He is waiting for you with great longing and heaviness of heart. And when He sees you limping in His direction…just watch the Father run!

Heavenly Father, help us to put aside our pride and our doubts and run to you. If we have strayed, help us to return in faith that your love removes all obstacles as you welcome your sons unconditionally.

Study by Cliff NeillĀ 

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