This post is based on Louie Giglio’s talk: Unthinkable Rescue. (This is part of his “Unthinkable” series.)
In Luke 15, Jesus begins telling stories about lost things that were eventually found again. Within all of these stories, one can see two recurring people and one overlapping theme: themselves, God, and His love for mankind. Nowhere is this more evident than in the story of the Prodigal Son.
For most of us, this story is familiar. In fact many pastors have preached on it … books have been written about it … ministries have centered themselves around it … and Google offers 2, 440, 000 sites about this particular story. However, for those who are not familiar with the story, here is a quick synopsis: son asks dad for his share of inheritance, son moves away and spends all he has, son becomes poor and homeless, son comes back home, the dad rejoices, the older brother throws a fit. Story done.
I have heard preachers focus on the son and/or the older brother, but not so much about the father. The part I want to highlight about the story – which I have never really looked at before – is this line:
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Many have looked at this story and said, “The son coming back to the father was when redemption began happening.” Some have said, “See, God doesn’t move within a person, until we come to our sense of needing Him.” And then there are those who think that only when a person is ready to “turn around” are they “good enough” to hear the message of God’s Love.
However, what we have all failed to see, is this fact: while the son was still a long ways off, the father saw him. This implies that the father had been looking for his son, long before his son decided to come home. This implies that the father had been looking for his son since the boy left home. Even more, the bigger implication is this: God looks for our homecoming way before we decide to come home.
Redemption begins when God comes looking for us; a change beings within us when we experience a change about God’s Love for us. Just as He is eternal, so is His Love. It is unconditional; it is not confined to our terms, actions, or understandings; it is beyond our scope of fully grasping.
The son was sure that his father would disown him – maybe even hate him – for his actions. The son was convinced that the only way his father would ever accept him, is if he worked as a servant for his father. The son had already planned out, in his mind, what his father would say and how his father would treat him from then on. The son was ready to return and never been called a “son” again by his father … or rather, his “boss”.
The son, however, was wrong. And so are we who approach God with the same thoughts, questions, fears, doubts, etc. Like the son, we misjudge God and His eternal Love for us. We cannot work for or purchase God’s Love. It is 100% all the time … no matter what. We can YEARN for it, but we cannot EARN it.
The father dressed his son in the finest of cloths … put a ring of sonship on his finger … and threw a feast in honor of his return. The response of the father was 100% opposite of what the son had assumed it would be. God’s Love and His response to us is no less the same: He dresses us in Christ [Colossians 3] … puts a Spring of sonship within us [Romans 8] … and invites us to dine with Him at a wedding banquet [Revelation 19-22].
This is the Father’s Love for us, His children. Let us be kids who celebrate the Father, not only this day, but everyday.
For a more in-depth talk about this idea of the Father’s unthinkable Love and Rescue, listen to Louie’s message here.