There’s this story in the Bible, about a boy who leaves home. It can be found in the book of Luke, in chapter 15, verses 11 through 32. You might have heard it before- or not, but I’m going to tell it to you now!
The boy in the story is the youngest of two brothers. He came from a wealthy family and growing up he always had most everything he could want. His future was secure too; for his father divided His wealth into two for each of his boys to inherit when they grew up.
The boys had a good life, but the youngest son was eager to grow up. So one day, he went to his father and asked for his share of the money. Of course, the father didn’t want his son to leave home, but he knew that he needed to let his boys grow up when they were ready to do so, so he graciously gave his youngest son his share of the inheritance.
With his new found wealth, the boy quickly left home and moved to a big city,. For a while, he was living the life! He had more money than he knew what to do with. He had lots of friends. He partied. He drank. He bought expensive things. He basically did whatever he pleased!
Until, all of a sudden, the money ran out. And just like that, the son didn’t have so many friends anymore. He couldn’t afford stylish new clothes anymore. He could eat out anymore. He didn’t party each night until the sun came up anymore. No, now, for the first time in his life, the boy had barely enough to live off of.
So he did the only thing he could think to do. He got a job. With his little experience and skill, the only job he could find was looking after pigs on a farm. It was his only offer, so he took it.
The son worked as hard as he could , but he still earned barely enough money to buy even food. He had nowhere to sleep so he slept with the pigs and he had no food to eat, so he ate what the pigs ate.
Finally, the boy hit rock bottom.
He knew he couldn’t go on living like he was this. Reluctantly, he decided his last option was to go back home. He knew his father would be angry, but he hoped that if he apologized and begged for a job, his father might be kind enough to pay him servants wages and let him work in the kitchens. Knowing this was his only choice, he left the farm and began the journey home.
Meanwhile, as his son had been out squandering his inheritance, the father had been at home, hoping and praying with everything inside of him that his son would return back to him safely. Each day was painful- he spent the hours longing for his son’s return. And each night was sleepless- he stared at the ceiling worrying about what his boy was up to.
Each morning, the father would watch the sun rise on the horizon, desperately hoping that as the first rays of sunlight appeared in the distance and lit up his land, his son might appear in the distance too.
And then one day, he did.
The father was, as usual, looking out from his balcony. He saw his son appear around the corner that lead up to their house and, with his heart pounding with joy in his chest, he ran out to meet him.
As soon as the son saw his father running towards him, he prepared himself to recite the apology he had been practicing and to beg for a job. But before he could open his mouth, his father wrapped his arms tightly around him. He forgave his son immediately, but it doesn’t just stop there!
The father wouldn’t hear of employing his son- instead he welcomed him back to the family with loving arms. That night, he killed the fattened calf and threw a banquet to celebrate the return of his youngest son. He was overjoyed that he had come home!
‘For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ Luke 15:24
Friend, if you haven’t picked up the message behind the story by now, let me explain. Jesus told this story to some of his followers one day- he was painting a picture of what God our father is like. The runaway son in the story represents us and the father represents our father- God.
Jesus is trying to tell us that it doesn’t matter how far we’ve run. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done… what we’ve said. It doesn’t matter where we’ve been or how we’ve lived. No, regardless of these things, our heavenly father is waiting to welcome us back into his arms.
He is our father and when he loses us, he is heartbroken. He loves us more than words can tell and He’s willing to forgive us, regardless of how unforgivable we might feel.
Friend, our Father is a good, good Father! He loves you so incredibly much and right now, all He wants is for you to turn to Him and fall into His loving arms.
And rest assured that when you do, He’s going to throw a party!