Sometimes I will see my kids do something and I’m suddenly transported back to my childhood. Today I was reminded of an incident with my twin brother. We were at my Grandmother’s house and were about 4 or 5 years old. We were playing in Grandmother’s garden. He had a rake and I had a garden hoe. We were trying to dig to China or something ambitious like that. And even a 4 year old can figure out that the higher you lift the garden tool, the deeper the cut it makes into the earth when you bring it down. So I raised the garden hoe above my head determined to dig faster than my brother.
Well, it didn’t turn out quite like I thought it would. We never made it to China, but my brother did get to take a trip to the ER and get some stitches in the small dent I put into his otherwise hard head. When I saw the blood on his head my short little life passed before my eyes and I thought this was the end. For sure, my parents were going to kill me. Nobody wants to go home when they think their parents are going to rake them over the coals.
But I’ve been pondering a familiar story lately that goes like this:
“A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.
About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
I love this story. These words of Jesus are recording in Luke 15 (Quotation from the NLT). So often the focus of this story is the Prodigal son and all the wrong that has been done, but the real focus of this story should be the Father. He is the hero. And in our lives, we often find ourselves prodigals afraid to go home to God the Father.
A few stitches were not enough for my parents to turn their back on me (although I’m not sure my brother will ever forgive me…even 4 decades later). And God the Father will never turn His back on you either, if you’re ready to go home. Regardless of what you’ve done or how ugly your past may be, if you want to go home to God, then go. If you’re worried about the welcome you might receive from the Father, then this story is clear…….there’s no need to worry. Just go home.
Photo via Visualhunt