The heart of the Father…

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Scripture: 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. …17 But when he came to himself he said, 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.” …22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on (my son)…for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

Observation: Here Jesus gives his most famous parable of the three we read in succession – lost sheep, lost coin, lost son. One would expect the father to reject his son who’d insulted him by asking for his inheritance while his father was still alive, then pissed it away on wine/women/song. The son was correct in v.19 to say he was no longer worthy to be called “son”. But his father wasn’t having it. Instead of rejection and anger, the father met his son with love and mercy. His son, who had wandered, away was back. Alive. Contrite.

Application: Yesterday I mentioned relating with the lost I sheep who was found by the good shepherd. Today I relate with the father in this story. Not that I am as loving and merciful as this fictitious man, but I understand the struggle of receiving children who have gone astray. I have three young adult children and each of them has made mistakes. Some serious mistakes, mostly because of their youth. Young people simply don’t have the experience us older people do. They don’t see what’s ahead like others of us who’ve stepped in a few landmines in life.

Yet despite how far a beloved child strays, they are always a beloved child. I’ve never once viewed a wayward child of mine as anything but one of my own. I have been angry, frustrated, afraid, disappointed, anxious – but never a thought to disown. My children are my children. Beloved children. Warts and all. Persons for whom I would give everything, my very life, with nary a second thought. I think it’s wired into us as human beings – whether you are a biological parent or not.

What would I have done were the son in the story my own? I don’t know. I’m not sure I would have thrown him a party, but I would never have rejected him. And the point of the story is that our heavenly Father receives his wayward children with love and mercy and grace. Too often I am not the father in this story, but the wayward son. I wander, stray, strike out on my own, in foolish ways.

Prayer: Lord, I don’t know if it was your intention, but your story speaks to me this morning as a father. Give me grace to reflect your heart of mercy and forgiveness with my own children and all people. Forgive me when I fail. Amen.

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