Green Pastures, quiet waters
Green Pastures, Quiet Waters
Every day, immediately after his morning prayers, the grey-haired man donned his sandals and set out. He turned right and walked very slowly as far as the gnarled old olive tree, a good distance for an old man. Then back to his house, where his wife was getting breakfast. Another day, another sunrise, the same old worries and the same prayers sent skyward to the ears of Jehovah.
After a silent meal, he set out again, this time to the large rock at the side of the dusty road, his eyes forever trained on the distant bend in the road.
Maybe today, Lord? Maybe today.
Day after day, hour after hour, tear after tear, prayer after prayer.
Slowly his eyes drooped and his head nodded until he jerked awake. It was time to seek shelter from the heat of the noonday sun.
Who was that on the road? Visitors did not usually come this far from the village unless they rode a donkey. But the one coming down that dusty road was nobody he knew. No respectable Jew would dress in such a manner.
But this one…..something familiar…. Could it be? Surely not. Perhaps the heat of the sun was causing his mind and eyes to play tricks on him. The old man rose on wobbly legs and began to make his way as swiftly as possible to the one coming toward him. The other man stopped, seemingly uncertain whether or not to proceed. He was weak from not having eaten in quite some time and he knew he was not fit to come near another human being. He had been living with the pigs and he’d had nowhere to bathe, no clean clothes to wear. He stank and looked as bad as he smelled. A few feet from the newcomer, the old man also stopped, closely examining the stranger. Could it really be?
“Yes! MY SON!”
The father ran the few remaining feet and put out his arms to receive the loved one for whom he had been waiting so long. The two men embraced, the father joyfully enduring the stench of pig filth and poverty.
I am struck with what this story does not tell us. The father did not say, “Good to see you, son. Now go and wash, get rid of the stink and muck, then I will welcome you properly. Right now you reek of dung and desperation and I can’t stand to get close to you.”
No, scripture says, "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). Read the full story in Luke 15:11-32
What a picture of a loving father who never gave up waiting for the return of the prodigal!
Our Heavenly Father responds in the same way. He does not allow the filth of our sin to keep Him away. In fact, He accepts us with open arms just as we are, in all the nastiness of our sin. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away”. John 6:37
Notice that the father did not wait for the son to come to him. The story tells us that while the son was still a long way off, the father saw him. He had not given up watching, waiting for his son to come home. I imagine that in those circumstances the son would be hesitant to approach. He knew who he was – what he had done. But his father took the first step and he ran to the son! So it is with the Heavenly Father. He took the initiative by providing the way for restored relationship.
And then, wonder of wonders, not only does He welcome us into His loving arms while in all our mess and ugly sin, He cleans us up. “ …..and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (I John 1:7).
If you are a prodigal reading this, please know that you need not wait until you clean up your act before you come to Christ. Waiting to come to the Lord until you get your life cleaned up is like waiting to go to the ER until you stop bleeding. God doesn't love the future version of you. He loves you in your mess.
Truly we have a great Heavenly Father and one from whom we can learn how to love unconditionally, to open our arms to those, including our children, who are weighed down with sin and despair and bring them to our Father for cleansing and a relationship that surpasses all others.
B. Klassen email@example.com