Luke 15: 11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ‘ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe——the best one——and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
I remember when as a young boy, only about four and a half years old, I was looking for my dad and I asked my older sister where daddy was. She told me he was at work and proceeded to point out the directions. Well, I wanted to be with my dad, so I took off down the road. Fortunately, the lady that owned the little store at the corner saw me and stopped me before I could try and cross the highway. On another occasion, my sister, brother, and I were outside waiting for dad to come home from work. We saw (what we thought was) dad’s car turn down the road toward our house, but rather than coming straight home the car pulled into the little store. We were so excited that we decided that instead of waiting at the house we would run down the road to meet him. Unfortunately, it wasn’t dad, and when we got home, mom was not too pleased that we had run off. The point is that, as a child, I loved to be with my dad. Given a chance I would spend all of my time with him.
Now, as a father, I see the same thing in my sons. When they were younger I would come home to squeals of delight and big bear hugs. Even my oldest, who was more reserved, smiled a huge smile and called out “Daaadddyy.” Even though those days are long gone, with the arrival of the teenage years their reaction to parents is a little more subdued to say the least, I still get a nod of acknowledgement if they manage to glance up from the X-box. I exaggerate a bit, the oldest one will still hug his parents in the safety of his own home.
I don’t know why, but God has a way of bringing memories and thoughts like these to my mind and then using them to teach me something about His nature and my relationship with Him. Over and over, Jesus spoke of coming to God like a child. God wants us to run to Him, to yearn just to be with Him. When was the last time you caught a glimpse of God and went running down the road to be with Him? Instead, we chase after almost anything but God. We will spend our entire lives running after the next pay raise. We will leave our wives or husbands chasing after our lusts. We will pursue fame, fortune, power, possessions we will run after anything but God.
Take the story of the Prodigal Son. Here is a young man, who in the prime of his life demanded his portion of inheritance. Then, with his wealth in hand he ran away to fill his desires. And, to quote those eloquent bards of the 1970’s, a little rock and roll band called The Eagles, “They threw outrageous parties, they paid heavenly bills.”
The reality is that all of this running never gets us anywhere. We run “up and down that highway” of life until we crash exhausted, unfulfilled, and lost. We think we are running to reach some higher goal, but, in the end we are simply running away. We are running away from our hurt and pain. We are running away from responsibilities. We are running away from fear and rejection. But, we are really running away from God, our Father. Just like the teenager who breaks the apron strings, we break away from God in a rebellious effort to declare our freedom. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why I think that I need my independence, my “space,” from God. I tell myself, “If I get this job, I will have financial security and then I can take care of myself.” Or I say, “If I have this beautiful woman, I will be satisfied.” But, these are all LIES. The only security, the only satisfaction is back home, back there with Dad, back there with my father, who has everything I could ever want or need.
God is not like me though. God has a single-minded obsession with his children. All He wants is to run to us and spend time with us. He is sitting outside on the porch looking down the road waiting and straining His eyes to catch a glimpse of us. The first hint that one of His children acknowledges Him or calls on Him and “BOOM” he is there. God’s love for us is child-like, unconditional and immediate. Oh, if only we were the same as God.
You have to give credit to the Prodigal Son. Yeah, he was fairly clueless in wasting all that his Father had given him, but who are we to cast stones? We have all done the same thing, wasted what our Father has given us that is. But the Prodigal Son finally came to his senses and decided to go HOME. He found himself living with the pigs. All his money and friends were gone. He was starving. Then, in a moment of genius, call it divine intervention, the Prodigal Son realizes that his Father is waiting at home and that his Father has everything he would ever need. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, the son gets up and goes home.
The wonderful thing is that the Father was watching and waiting, when he saw someone coming up the road. The Father recognized His son, even when the son was a long way off, the Father jumped up, grabbed the purple robe of royalty, and ran down the road to meet his son. I know how he must of felt. I remember the pure unadulterated joy when I caught sight of dad’s car turning into the drive. God, our Father, wants to run to us in the same way. He will if we give Him the chance. It doesn’t matter if we have ran away and lived with the pigs for a while. He doesn’t care if our hair or our lives are a mess and our clothes and emotions are in tatters. God will run to us like a child, throw His arms around us, and lavish His love on us. What a wonderful God and Father He is.
What if we were a little more like God? What if we sought Him with the same child-like exuberance that He seeks us? Just think what life would be like if we would sit and wait for a glimpse of God; then when he came, we would run and jump in His arms. God, I want to be like a child again. I want to be like that young boy I used to be, when all it took was for me to know where Dad was and I would go, without question, without any other thought than that I wanted to be with Daddy. Oh God, to have the faith that would, when your word spoke, like my older sister so many years ago, saying “Your Father is over there;” to have the faith to drop everything and go and be with Him, to hunger and yearn simply to be in the presence of my Father. Oh Lord, teach me to come to you like a child. “Abba, Father, DAAADDDDYY, I’m home!”