“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. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate."
Last week we looked at how this boy (we can call him Matt) demanded his inheritance ahead of time, packed his belongings, and left his father’s house to sample the “delights” of the world. When Matt squandered all his wealth with friends and met with bad times, he thought about his home and how much his father loved him. He decided to return home and seek his father’s forgiveness. He had left home with money in his pockets, a carefree smile on his face, and many ambitions of what his life would be like. It was not easy for Matt to pocket his pride and go back home to the father he had run away from! He knew he had disappointed his dad. He had lost everything – the smart car his father had given him, the designer clothes and shoes, and all the credit cards. He had set out to see the world hoping he would become someone great, but here he was hitch hiking home with no luggage, an empty stomach, and a sack full of shattered dreams. But he was on the right road. He was heading back to the place he was meant to be – his father’s house. He was stepping back towards God’s plan for him. To step out of a bad situation and begin to progress again, we often have to go back to where we first stepped off the ordained path.
Matt had a long way to travel. He was dirty, weary, hungry and poor. He probably hitch hiked with a camel caravan for a part of the way, and walked the rest of the way. He was hot, dusty and gasping for water. He still had some distance to go but his legs felt like they would fall off if he took another step. His mind was filled with pictures of his loving father, and the home in which he had lacked nothing. As he trudged homewards a step at a time, his lips kept rehearsing the same words over and over: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” He said this to himself so many times that he really believed that he was no longer worthy. He was filled with guilt and a sense of condemnation. He wondered if he could even face his father, after the life he had been living, but the loving eyes of the man who had nurtured him were ever before him.
As Matt turned a corner with still a long way to go, he saw the father waiting for him. The Father had prayed night and day, and waited in anticipation. He had faith that his prayers would be answered. Matt had been gone a long time, and never called or written, but the father knew he would be coming home. Each day he walked to the desert road leading to their town and watched the camel caravans arrive, hoping to see his boy return. Each day he went back home a little disappointed, but still believing that tomorrow was another possibility. He lived in faith.
One day, as the father waited hopefully, watching the distant horizon for signs of his son, he saw a young man he hardly recognized! His heart pounded as he ran towards him. Matt was very different – unwashed, unshaven and smelling very unsavory! Most of all, the father’s heart broke when he saw the look of defeat and despair in the eyes of his child. His heart was filled with compassion as he grabbed him in his arms and hugged him tight! Matt was overwhelmed by his father’s loving welcome, and the force of his hug, as he realized he was finally home, where he should be. He was back in the love of His father! He mumbled his rehearsed apology, but his father was not listening; he was too delighted that his boy was home. He called for his servants, and gave orders for an ornate robe, to replace Matt’s tattered garments, shoes for bare feet, and even some of the family jewelry, which signified his place in the father’s house!
Matt had grieved his father’s heart and lived recklessly and irresponsibly, “but the father” restored him to the place he was meant to be. He asked the father to forgive him, and give him a place among his servants, “but the father” restored him to all the rights of sonship. Today, the Father wants you to know that He loves you and longs for you to come back to your rightful place. He has ordained that you rule and reign in heavenly places. He has decreed that you are the head and not the tail, the son and daughter of the King of kings. He has planned prosperity and power for you. You may be far from where it was planned for you to be, “but the Father”…. You may have grieved His heart and wasted the gifts and talents He blessed you with, “but the Father…”! Whatever it may be that needs tuning and transformation in your life, there is a big “but” because of the Father, and His extreme love and compassion for you. He sees your struggles. He knows your difficulties. He has been waiting and watching for you to lay your burdens down and come (back) to Him! He longs to put His arms around you and welcome you right back into His wonderful presence.
The Father has an ornate robe of righteousness, shoes of peace, and a signet ring for you. (Isaiah 61:10, Ephesians 6:15, Haggai 2:23). The new sandals signify the new life and walk which the Father was offering his returning son. The signet ring represented his restoration as a son and heir. In Daniel 6:17, the king used his signet ring as a seal and a sign of his approval. In Genesis 41:42, Pharaoh took off his signet ring and gave it as a mark of authority and power to Joseph. In Haggai 2:23, we read that God promised to make his servant a signet ring, because he was called and chosen. The Father wants you to bask in His love and approval, and walk in the power and authority He has given you as a son and daughter in His house. He wants to wear you on His hand!
Friend, Matt took some steps which enabled him to enjoy his rightful place in the house of his father once more.
1)He decided to turn. We cannot change our situation until we decide that we cannot tolerate it any more. A decision has to be made to leave it behind.
2)He changed direction. He got up and went back to his father.
3)He repented and sought the father’s forgiveness.
4)He experienced the blessing of absolute restoration. It was like he had never been away!
There is also something we can learn from the faithful father. He had faith. He prayed for his son to return, and he never gave up. He looked for his miracle every day, until he saw it come to pass in his life! Whatever you are believing and hoping for, expect it, look for it, anticipate it. We serve a God who gives life to the dead, and calls things that are not as though they were! (Romans 4:17) There is nothing impossible with Him, and all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23).
5)Believe, expect and wait in anticipation like the father!
Friend, our Father dreams big dreams for us! He wants us to catch these in our hearts and live towards them. He wants us to move away from the lifestyle Matt got sucked into – the lure of the world, and all its crazy compromise. He is calling us higher, and closer into His presence today!
Be blessed and walk in victory. Walk in His power!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 14 February 2011