This week, as I read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, this verse stood out to me. In this parable a young man demands his inheritance from his father and then wastes it sinfully and selfishly. Eventually, he runs out of money and becomes hungry and desperate. He decides to go home to his father and beg him to take him back into the house as a hired servant. However, this parable is meant to reveal the heart of our Father God to us. It says that while this wayward son was still a long way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion for him, and ran to him, embraced him and kissed him.
Perhaps as you're reading this, you are thinking of your very own prodigal son or daughter or some other relative or friend that you are burdened for. Here's the good news. At the slightest turning of your loved one's heart, God sees, and even while they're still a long way off from Him, He's running to meet them. You just keep praying that they'll turn their heart toward home, toward Him.
Perhaps as you're reading this, you are the one who's a long way from home, a long way from God. You are in a mess and you know you're there because of your own wrong decisions. You don't feel worthy to turn back to God, yet the moment you turn towards Him He will run to meet you. You're His child and He loves you. He's been waiting for you to come to the end of your own devices and to turn back towards Him. He can't wait to wrap you up in His arms of welcoming love. He's not going to scold you or shame you. He's going to cover you with compassion.
Perhaps as you're reading this, you love God and want with all of your heart to be what He wants you to be. However, it seems like life gets in the way and time for prayer and Bible reading and worship just get squeezed out. Before you know it, two or three days have gone by and all you've done is mumble a few words of prayer on the go. You miss the closeness and companionship you felt with the Father just a few days ago. So, you find your way back to your place of prayer and you open your Bible, then you spend the first ten minutes asking God to forgive you for neglecting your time with Him. What makes you think that His compassion isn't for you? He sees your love for Him, weak as it may seem to be on some days, and His heart is moved with compassion and tenderness. He's running toward you and longs to scoop You up in His arms. Receive His welcoming love and pick right back up where you left off. Don't let guilt and shame convince you that you're one of His "less than" kids, that you'd be in God's good graces more if you were only more disciplined and less distracted. You're in God's good graces because you're His child. We all know spending more time in prayer and Bible reading is a good thing to do, but that's because it's good and beneficial for us and our spiritual growth and maturity, not because it earns us more of His attention or love. You are fully and perfectly loved by your Father God, even on the days when you feel like you've failed Him. Every time you turn toward Him, He's running toward you with open arms.