A FATHER’S LOVE

Andy Hollifield 12-8-16
As I sat in church a while back, I heard a wonderful message on The Prodigal Son. I want to share just a few thoughts about it because it has been on my mind ever since. I have learned that if God puts something on my mind that heavy, it is for someone else’s benefit and not just my own. Don’t stop reading at this point because it definitely has a practical application for anyone that has been a dad or had one. The story is found in Luke 15: 11-32.
I just want to point out a few things that might help someone. I have extensive experience at times playing the prodigal from my heavenly father. Always wanting to run away from his love and provision and care but not really having anywhere I wanted to go and no purpose for going. We are prone to restlessness at times. Even as kids we would often say “I’m bored!” We pull that on God also and start wanting stuff that doesn’t belong to us and that we haven’t earned and really have no right to. The book of James says it best in chapter 1 verse 14 “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Anytime our decisions are based on uncontrollable desire (lust), you can rest assured it won’t end well. I don’t want to dwell too much on his journey to the far country but on the father’s broken heart while his son was gone. When we make decisions based on lust, our decisions do affect those we love whether we want to admit it or not.
The story goes on to say that when all the money was gone, the friends were gone, and the last thing to go was the boy’s self-respect because he was willing to go against everything he had been raised to believe and took a job feeding hogs and the bible says “he would have fain” (gladly) ate what the hogs were eating. To sum up his position; when you “begin to be in want” you are getting close to hitting bottom. When you finally hit bottom and find yourself without any hope, you will “come to yourself” and realize what you had and turn. Most folks usually have to hit bottom before they ever turn!
Meanwhile, back on the home front, you have a father that has never given up hope. I personally believe he walked outside several times a day and especially every morning and right before dark, just looking down the road for any sign of his wandering son. How many times have we put God in that position? I believe that every time he seen someone coming up the road, he probably rose up with excitement only to be disappointed time after time. In spite of that, he never stopped looking and hoping. Finally the day came that the shadowy figure way off in the distance actually looked familiar. Is it really possible that after all this time it could be his boy? It looked a lot like him but he didn’t have that scraggly beard when he left but that was definitely his walk! He was walking a little slower than his boy did but then again sin and shame can take the pep out of your step. It had to be him! The father lights off of the porch at a dead run and the closer he gets to the stranger the more he begins to realize it is no stranger at all but his darling little boy! As he reaches him, he doesn’t even slow down but flies around his neck in a full embrace maybe even taking the half-starved weakened boy to the ground! Even though it was like kissing a pig, the father didn’t seem to mind! He was just happy that his prayers had been answered and his baby boy was back where he belonged! Don’t you just love happy endings? Did you notice what was missing? The third degree and “I told you so”. The boy most likely still smelled like the pigs he had been feeding but his father never mentioned his condition or ridiculed him for what he had been doing or inquired as to where he had been. He did however command his servants to bring him the BEST robe and a ring and shoes. That tells me a lot! The boy had just come out of a pig pen and the dad was wanting to dress him up in a tux. A ring is a circle and a token of unending love. Remember that from your wedding day? The lack of shoes probably meant that the boy was broken and bleeding because his journey had been from a far country. The most unusual part is that he called for a feast using the “fatted calf” which according to custom was reserved for honored guest. Honor was the last thing this boy had brought to his father. He had been a reproach to his father’s name the whole time he had been gone.
In closing I will get to the point. It don’t matter to the father where you have been or what you have done, he just wants you to come home. When you do, you will have to submit to him and his will just like the young man did. He won’t grill you about anything you have done but will accept you like you are, stench and all. You’ll never be too filthy for him to love and kiss on you. You will never be gone so long that the father can’t recognize you. And maybe the best thing is that you will never be gone so long that he will stop looking and waiting with anticipation for you to come home. I just can’t help but feel that God is trying to reach someone who has been gone a while. If that is you; he is standing on the porch looking down the road waiting on you, hurry home. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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