So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. ’But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15.20-24)
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How joyful God is when He welcomes us back. We can have such skewed ideas of God as if He is an angry dictator or fault-finding headteacher. But actually, God is love and His attitude towards us is compassion and grace. Even when we are far from Him, He is willing to run and meet us, the way this father did.
Look how it says, ‘But while he was still far off’ - the father didn’t wait for the son to come all the way to him, but he went and made up the distance. God does that. God doesn’t just wait - He comes out to us in His love and He stretches His arms in welcome. God is stretching His arm out right now, moving down the road waiting for your friends to come home.
Loving God, please get my friends on the road where they see You running to meet them. Thank You that You welcome us with joy however far or however long we have been away.
Think of how you have been hurt by someone, or disagreed with them. How could you reach out and meet them where they are, just as Jesus does for us?
Note down any thoughts you have had as a result of your reading of scripture, reflection and prayer.