The Embrace for the Prodigal Child

My children and I were grabbing a quick bite to eat last week while out running errands.  My husband called and decided last minute to meet us for lunch.  My girls instantly began pacing the front window where we were sitting looking for his car.  After ten long minutes, his black jeep pulled into the parking space directly in front of the cafe.  My girls ran out the door in excitement, and Thomas began frantically calling for “DaDa”, over and over and over.  His two-year-old babble pierced through the quiet restaurant, and all eyes turned to us as each of my children swarmed their father.  He picked each of them up and kissed them through his own laughter.  It was reminiscent of those reunions between soldiers and their families, the ones where the daddies have been deployed for over a year, and then make a surprise return home.  A darling woman in the table next to us was almost in tears, and couldn’t help but grab her heart because of the sweetness of the moment.  She asked me when they had seen him last, and I responded awkwardly “this morning at breakfast”.

We as children are made to desire and adore our fathers, and our fathers are made in the likeness of our Heavenly Father that adores His children unconditionally.  I watch often as all three of my children seek the attention and approval of their daddy.  They cannot help themselves.  It is so interesting to see how children that already have the complete adoration of their father, still try and earn it.  Their immature hearts have not yet reached the maturity of trusting the rest and security of their father’s presence.  Their young age keeps them from fully grasping his unconditional love for them.  Though their hearts were created for loving their Father, our fallen world challenges the relationship with obstacles.  With doubts.  With fears.  With anxieties.  And so we as children struggle at times to seek the quiet place where He is, where we can unload our baggage from our shoulders, where we can rest in the presence of the One that never slumbers.  It is a place we all desire to be.  No matter our age.

As I sat in that cafe I instantly thought of the prodigal son.  I thought of how fathers that are in true character with our Heavenly Father, anxiously await their children’s arrival.  They adore their children just because they are their children.  Father’s that rightly reflect the light of their Father in heaven, look down the road for the first sight of their broken children coming back to His presence.  They celebrate when their children come home, and they pace the floor at the front door, waiting to see their son or daughter appear on the horizon.  They keep the calf fattened and ready with hope of their return.  The finest robe hangs pressed and clean in the closet in anticipation of the day.

I stand drenched under a waterfall of grace as I watch my children run to the arms of a father that reflects the love of the One standing over him.  It is as it should be, and I have bore witness to the promise of a God that will open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that we will not have room enough for it.  But to those who have not felt the security of those earthly arms of tenderness and grace, to those that even as adults long to feel accepted by an earthly father, to those who have received rejection and abandonment over acceptance and security; lift high your head and look to the horizon.  Your Heavenly Father’s feet are wearing out the threshold at the gates of heaven. He is pacing the entrance in anticipation of your homecoming.  His arms are wide and His love is immeasurable.  You are accepted and adored just as you are,  and His eternal embrace will fill all voids.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.  “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’  Luke 15: 11-27