Luke 15:20 – 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. (NIV)
As a boy, I worked summers on my aunt and uncle's pig farm. Every week, I pumped out the sewage pit running the length of the pig barn with the "honey wagon". One particular day, I backed up to the barn and pushed the suction hose between the large grates and into the liquid "soup" below.
Hearing squealing, I ran inside and jumped over the pen to where I had slid the hose down, and looked down to find that a pig had fallen into the "soup"!
I yelled across the yard for someone to "Get my uncle, and come quick!" I ran back into the barn, grabbed one of the grates over the sewage pit and swung down into the mess below. The liquid was well over my waist! The startled pig started a frantic swim for the far end with me pursuing. At the end of the pit I grabbed him by the ears and started my journey back to the open grate above. My uncle lowered a ladder, and I grabbed the slippery pig around his belly and lifted. Part way up the ladder, he kicked up a fight, and we both fell backwards under the surface. Sputtering and exasperated, I grabbed Mr. Pig and this time got him high enough so my uncle could grab him and pull him out. I was greeted with howls of laughter for my lifeguard efforts as I stood under the sun and got hosed down in my "birthday suit" to get cleaned off. My clothes were ruined and had to be buried.
I think of a rebellious son in Luke 15 who crested a hill and was spotted by his father "a long way off". Despite the repulsive condition of his son, the father ran to him, fell on his neck, and welcomed him with kisses. Such love surpasses our understanding.
Are you wandering? Do you feel no one notices you, no one cares? God knows and God cares. There is always a way back.
God has welcomed us into His presence. He has cleansed us from our sin through Jesus Christ. He has cleansed us and allowed us to sit in His banqueting house, despite our prodigal ways and the ravages of sin that mark us.
1 John 3:1 – How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (NIV)
Prayer: Father in heaven, help us to cultivate compassion for others in our lives. Help us to realize that with You, there is no such thing as a "disposable" human being. Today, if we are people who are wandering like the "prodigal" of whom Jesus spoke, give us the humility to return to You, to Your ways, to Your Word. Amen.