by Gelly McAuliffe-Bunker
“So 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.”
Luke 15:20 NIV
Most of us are familiar with the parable of the Prodigal. We may cherish it for the hope it offers us as we wait for our own ‘prodigal.’ In some instances, we might have waited many years for our prodigal to return to their Christian roots, or reconciliation within our family. We know that they need to return on their own terms. However, I want you to notice that Luke writes, “while he was a still long way off” (Luke 15:20).
The son had committed his heart to return to the father. He was ready. But the father did not wait for the son to achieve the whole distance. The father spotted the son while he was still a long way off. Then the father chose to make reconciliation easier for the son. The father, in compassion, chose to run to the son. He “threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The father affirmed his love for his son. The son had taken the first step, in going toward his father. Now the father prioritised reconciling with his son. Running in that way was undignified for a man of his age and position in that culture. Yet the father ran.
Reconciliation with our prodigals may also require an unorthodox step so that reconciliation can be achieved. It is important that the first step is taken by them, as they freely will. But, once taken with sincerity, our part can begin. Let us be ready and positioned to see a change. Our hearts need to be open to reconciliation. Any sense of anger, self-pity, unforgiveness, entitlement, or justice will need to be firmly given to God. God is the only One who can bring reconciliation. He is the One who is sovereign over this. When you see that the prodigal has taken the first step, let joy and compassion prompt your heart.
When the father ran, it was not simply to get there quickly. The father also came with vulnerability. He “threw his arms around [his son] and kissed him.” May we also offer ourselves in vulnerability and generosity, as God wills. This is an openness to the reconciliation also desired by the prodigal. No, things may not return to how they were for a long time, if at all. People change. Submit to God in embracing this new season, knowing that He is your strength and protector. Listen well, and praise God for the work He is accomplishing.
If our prodigal has not turned their face toward home yet, let us not be discouraged. God is working things out in His perfect timing. Let us look to Him in trust and hope, knowing that He is sovereign.
Gelly Nic seeks to share God’s Word with others, that each may know and experience the incredible love and faithfulness of our God, who draws near to us as we draw near to Him (Jas 4:8). Her heart prayer is that those on the margins would find grace and true fellowship in God, and with His people.
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