The Seeking Father

If you’ve been far from God, please know that He never has ceased to wish for your return.

How well I remember the Thursday evening supper hour of a special day in my life. My wife and I were living in an apartment in Chicago. One of our sons had been away at school, and following graduation he decided to stay in the town where he was living. He had no job and little money. He was housed in a cheap hotel and was living a life–style that broke our hearts. We had urged him to come home, but for reasons best known to himself, he chose to stay in the “far country.”

On that Thursday evening we were just finishing our evening meal when the door buzzer sounded. My wife pressed the “talk” button and asked, “Who’s there?”

The response brought us unfathomable joy. He didn’t say his name. He didn’t ask, “May I come in?” He simply said, “I’m home."

On that evening I knew the same joy that filled the heart of the Jewish patriarch, the father of the Prodigal Son. My son was home, as his son was home. 

There’s no need for a lot of words at a time like that. Just to hold the returned child in one’s arms speaks volumes.

Our Heavenly Father wants to share His best with all of His children. If you’ve been far from Him, please know that He never has ceased to wish for your return. Indeed, His heart has been broken by your waywardness.

The late Dr. Dennis Kinlaw told the story of an incident in which his daughter Sally was involved.  Sally and her husband had a ministry in Paris, and one evening Sally and several of her friends were enjoying themselves in a café, chatting and laughing as they ate.

They were approached by a fellow diner, a Parisian businessman, who said, “Your happiness is obscene. In a world where there is so much suffering and agony, it is wrong to display laughter and joy in public.”

One of Sally’s friends, a Christian, said to the man, “What you need to do is pray.”

“Pray?” the man asked. “Pray? I’ve prayed more than any of you.” And then he unfolded a story of his little daughter who was suffering with a fatal and incurable disease. He told of the agony of standing at her bedside and watching strength and life itself ebb out of that helpless body. He told of praying with all his heart that God would work a miracle, but his daughter grew steadily worse.

Then one of the group of friends, a young lady who herself had suffered both physical and emotional disaster, spoke. “God hurts more than you do,” she said.

And then she asked a penetrating question. “When you see your daughter lying there, who hurts most—you or her?”

Our Heavenly Father longs for all of His children to return to Him. He waits, even now. And His suffering will turn to joy when we head for home.

The man was weeping now. “She’s unconscious much of the time,” he said. “I’m sure I suffer more than she does.”

“And God hurts more than you do,” the friend added.

It wasn’t pleasant for the Prodigal Son, feeding swine in the Far Country. But the father was suffering more than the son.

Like our faithful Creator, the prodigal’s father provided all of the capital which the son wasted in “riotous living.” Like our faithful God who desires that none should perish but that all should come to repentance, the patriarch had unconditional love for his wandering child. Like our forgiving Savior, the old gentleman welcomed home the child who had so glibly departed but who so humbly came home.

Can’t you just see the old man sitting on his front porch every day, scanning the horizon for a stirring of dust or a tiny figure in the distance, either one of which would indicate that someone was coming—and it might be his son?

I can imagine that night after weary night the father would light a candle and place it in a window as a beacon, just in case the wanderer might be coming home.

On that happy day of days, the father is standing on the front porch as he had done so many times before. He sees a tiny speck moving in the distance. He watches intently, to see who it might be. Hope leaps within him, and the rate of his pulse increases. This looks like it might be his long-lost son.

The man coming up the path is thinner than the boy who went away. His step is slow, and he uses a staff to maintain his balance and to keep moving.

The father strains his eyes. He’s been disappointed before, and he doesn’t want his hopes to rise too high, only to have them dashed again.

But this looks like his son. He’s sure it’s his son.  And even though he’s still a quarter of a mile away, the old man takes a step toward him. Then another. In a matter of moments he’s running full speed to greet his wayward son. 

Our Heavenly Father longs for all of His children to return to Him. He waits, even now. And His suffering will turn to joy when we head for Home. 


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