Thursday, February 14, 2008

No Greater Love

valentine



As Christians, we have all heard it said that if you give the devil an inch, he will gleefully take a mile. But what if we stop for a moment and look at the flip side of that statement? Let’s revisit for a moment a Bible story from Luke 15 that most of us have heard of all our lives—that of the prodigal son.

11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13"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. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So 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.
21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[a]'
22"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. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

Something happened in this family to cause the young man to ask for his inheritance and leave home. Did he have intentions of going out and squandering it all on riotous living, of losing it all and not even being able to find a job or food? Did he ever in his wildest imagination believe that somewhere down the road he would be living among the pigs—starving, dirty, and barefoot? What was on his mind as he left home that day? Perhaps he was angry—maybe there had been words spoken between him and his brother. Maybe he was wounded. The scriptures do not say why he chose to leave. Perhaps he was just immature and wanted to find out what he had been missing all those years living under the protective wing of his father. We don’t know. We only know that his choice to leave resulted in a drastic change in his way of life.

Did his father beg him to stay? Did he forbid him to leave? No, he gave him his inheritance and let him go. Because that was the son’s choice. The son had a free will. I’m sure the father grieved many nights for his son. The father knew that it was a great big world out there, that life might not treat him as kind, that the world would not love him near as much as he did. But he let him go.
The scriptures say in verse 17 that when the young man came to himself, he got up and headed for home:
17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.

Although he knew returning home was always an option, he did not expect to be restored completely to sonship. He thinks maybe his dad will let him at least be one of his slaves. Deep down, he knew that his father loved him too much to turn him away. But he had no idea the extent of his father’s mercy, forgiveness, and love.

The Bible tell us: "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.” Did you see that? The son was yet far away. He had turned toward home. Repented. But he still had a long way to go before he was back where he belonged. But his father saw him. He recognized him from a long way off. He could tell that his son had been beaten down, hurt, used, and wounded—and all from his own doing. Still, he recognized his son. And his heart had to have leaped for joy inside as he ran to him. The father did not sit on the porch or walk to the mailbox and think about how to punish him or what he was going to say to scold him when the son got there. The father RAN to him, fell on his neck, and kissed him. And not only that but he restored him completely to his place of sonship in the family. Completely.

When the older son saw this, it angered him. He questioned the father bitterly.
28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

Why did the brother do this? Because he was jealous? Because he did not love his brother as much as the father? Because he was selfish? Why didn’t the older brother go out and compel the younger one to come home? The main reason was because he did not understand, much like the younger son, his rightful place in the family. He was the older brother—the one who should have been the adviser to the younger. He should have taken his younger brother’s welfare to heart. His place as the older brother was to help his brother, not kick him while he was down.

Neither of them understood that being a son meant everything. Neither of them could fathom the depth of the love of the father. The father said, “Son, I recognize your faithfulness. I love you just as much. And because of that, all that I have is at your disposal—healing, salvation, prosperity, blessing. It’s been right here all along. I have just been waiting to see if you would take it and use it. Your brother recognized this. He took it and used it. The lesson he had to learn was how to quit taking it for granted, while your lesson was to learn to come to me. Come to me with your questions, your concerns, your needs. I will take care of you as well.

It’s no time to squabble over the place I have given your brother. Now is not the time to discuss petty jealousies and whether or not he deserves what he gets. He is home. That is all that matters.
And you my younger son, I want you to recognize that I as your Father, love you more than you can ever fathom. I grieved for you desperately. I yearned for you. I am so glad that you decided to come home. I thought you were dead. I thought you had forgotten us, had disowned us, turned your back on us completely. But I rejoiced when I saw you from afar, because I knew that your heart really was here with me. Oh, it is a great day, my sons. A great day, indeed.

All God is looking for in your life is a little wiggle room to work. You may be limping home. You may not can lift your head up. But put one foot in front of the other as you turn toward Home. Give God an inch—and He will move all heaven and earth to intervene. So great is this love for us.

3 comments:

Sista Cala said...

"...Still, he recognized his son."

Even when the son had become everything that he had never been, the father recognized him. What peace there is in knowing that no matter how we mess ourselves up, our heavenly Father will always recognize us. He will always welcome us back to His side.

Diane said...

AMEN Sister!

Love it! "Giving God a little wiggle room!" Perfect~!

Happy Valentines Day!

Diane

Kathleen Marie said...

I have often wondered the same thing...Why did he leave? I wonder the same about some of my own children...Why aren't they following God? I don't understand it either but my kids know in the heart of hearts that God is waiting for them. They also know that our door is always open if they ever need to come home.

This is a fabulous post! Thank you and God Bless!