He Runs to Us
If it matters that I follow God, but it’s also true that He loves me no matter what… what is His response when I blow it? Because let’s be real: we all know not one of us is perfect and we each will certainly screw up (whether on accident or on purpose) over and over throughout our lives.
So… how does God react when that is the case?
Thankfully, Jesus told us a really helpful story to give us insight on this very matter. In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of the “Prodigal (or “Lost”) Son”— if we take a moment to look here, this particular parable can help us to get an accurate picture of how God responds when His kids aren’t acting appropriately.
If you aren’t familiar with the account, here it is in a nutshell:
After insulting his dad, abandoning his dad and the family business, and taking his father’s life savings, a particular son squanders all the money in what is described as “wild living.” In other words, from start to finish, this son is completely self-centered. On purpose. He wants what he wants and he does whatever he wants to do— regardless of how irresponsible or destructive or wasteful or insulting or just plain wrong it is. But then, after running out of money, living in filth, and realizing he is on the verge of starving to death, this son comes to his senses, realizes the error of his ways, and decides to return to his dad’s home, apologize, and beg his dad for a job as a hired servant.
He says this: “I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
And this is the crazy part of this story to me— the dad’s response: If you look at Luke 15:20, you will see that this father— after having been disrespected, misused, and even betrayed by his son— sees his son from “a long way off” (as though he had been looking for him and waiting for him all along), and then runs to the son, is filled with compassion for him, and then celebrates his return.
Can you believe that?!? This father, despite the betrayal, the irresponsibility, the selfishness, the wastefulness, and the disrespectfulness of all his son’s actions… welcomes his son back with such grace and love— and then he throws a party!
For the record: this is a completely absurd response given the circumstances.
And, according to Jesus, this is how our God responds when we turn back to our Heavenly Father after not following Him well! Whaaaaat?!?
Crazy, but true.
Now I want you to take a look at this painting right here:
This piece of art is titled “The Prodigal Daughter” and it was created by the author Charlie Mackesy. And even though this may be an image of a wayward daughter instead of a wayward son, the Father is the same.
I look at this picture and I see myself here. I recall the times when I have been completely selfish and sinful and horrible— to Him, to my loved ones, to humanity in general. I recall the times when I, too, have come to my senses and realized, with humiliation and sorrow, how very wrong I have been. I look at this painting and I recall the desperation for acceptance and mercy from my Father.
And I remember, too, how incredibly gracious and loving and forgiving God has always been to me.
No matter how far I have wandered from Him or His will for my life, He is always right there waiting for me— running to me with love and celebration in His eyes— the VERY MOMENT I glance His way again.
This story, this picture, personifies what the Psalmist wrote in 103:4,8:
“He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion… The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Let’s keep this story and this image in our minds as a reminder of how God responds when we turn back to Him after not following Him well.
This is our God. And this is how He reacts when we repent and turn back to Him.
Absolutely nothing can ever separate us from His good, pure, never-ending love.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present not the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8:38-39~
If you are interested in studying more about who God is, here is a basic (not comprehensive) handout you can use to dive into the Bible for yourself. Enjoy!
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What about you?
Can you think of a time wherein you have been desperate for God’s forgiveness and mercy– and experienced it in abundance? What is one of the attributes of God you are particularly drawn to right now?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.