This past Sunday Mark Miller shared a powerful word from the parable of the prodigal son. I've heard this story countless times, so honestly when I heard that he was planning to preach from Luke 15 my first thought was, "yeah yeah, I already know this story." I didn't expect to have a personal encounter through a story I was so familiar with. But it seems that when we think we have God figured out, he usually surprises us and reminds us graciously that we are not God. That is exactly what happened to me on Sunday. It reminded me that when we approach God's word with an open heart and with curiosity, we make space for the Holy Spirit to speak in powerful ways.
The one verse that I sensed I was supposed to pay attention to was this: "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" (Luke 15:20). What struck me the most was that first phrase. But while he was still a long way off. While he was still far away, the father ran towards him. It didn't matter how battered or dirty or even hungover the son was that day. The father was thrilled to embrace his son and lavish him with love. Imagine how unexpected that would have been for the son.
This could be a life verse for me. There have been so many times when I feel like I am a long way off, far away from God, caught up in my own sin and shame, completely stuck. In those moments it's easy to become anxious about how I can "get back to God." What I easily forget is that God is the one in pursuit of me. He's already waiting for me. He's running out to me. He's ready to receive me with open arms, exactly as I am. All I have to do is return home.
As a way of processing this beautiful story and attempting to internalize these deep truths, I wrote this song. I pray that it blesses you and reminds you of our Father's commitment to pursuing us, even when we're a long way off.
When I was a little boy, I ran away
Looking for some peace of mind, I thought I’d stay
I was looking for something to satisfy
All I had were welled up tears that never cried
When my father saw me coming round that bend
He ran towards me, picked me up and then we danced
You’re home is in my arms
When I grew a little taller, still I ran
Thought I knew my way around, I had a "plan"
But falling harder, drowning water, sinking sand
The hunger lingered for my father’s steady hand
I know running faster
Makes you feel a little stronger than you really are
But sitting at my table, is all you’ll really ever need
I promise all I have is yours