by Beth Desplancke, Captain –
It was one of my biggest fears as a mother. My six-year-old daughter, Emily, had been playing in the front yard, but when I checked on her, she was nowhere to be seen. I yelled her name. I yelled it again louder. Carrying my 1-1/2 year old son, I ran down our block in frantic search of her. Finally I dialed 9-1-1 in panic. All I wanted was for Emily to be found and returned to me safely.
When the police officers finally arrived at my home and one was asking me questions, Emily wandered up, surprised to see police with the flashing lights in our driveway. She acted as if nothing had happened.
Was I angry at her? Later, yes, but at that moment all I could do was run to her, grab her up my arms, hug her tight and kiss her repeatedly.
There were no angry words, no reprimands, no punishment. I was so happy to have her back and ecstatic to know that she was okay. I simply wanted to cuddle her, kiss her and tell her “I love you” over and over again.
After I calmed down, I was reminded of a story Jesus told in Luke 15 about a lost son. In Jesus’ story a son demanded his share of his father’s inheritance before his father’s death and then went off and squandered all of the money. When the son reached rock bottom he decided to return home and see if his dad would take him on as a servant. He figured he no longer deserved being his son.
Luke 15:20 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.” The father didn’t give hiss son a chance to ask about being a servant. Instead a party was thrown to celebrate his return.
No condemnation or angry words. All the father had was love for his child and joy knowing that his son had returned.
God is the father in this story. We are the wayward son (or daughter). We all have sinned and chosen to go our own way. But when we come to our senses, and realize the path of sin isn’t where we want to be, we too can return to him. He’ll forgive us and welcome us in his loving arms. It doesn’t matter what we have done or where we have been. If we return to him with a repentant heart, God will welcome us back with open arms. 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
God will do just as I did when my missing child came home; with a warm embrace he will say, “I’m so glad you’re home.”
Reprinted from The War Cry May 9, 2009.