Have you heard the story of the prodigal son? It’s not a story, it’s actually a parable. This week I have looked at it twice. With two different groups of people.
Once again, it rekindled in me that burning fire for God. The fire fuelled by His amazing, unconditional love. I’ve heard many different versions of the story, adaptations written for modern audiences, written for young children, written for teenagers.
In essence, the prodigal son is a story of God’s unconditional love for us, and His immense celebration and joy when we return to Him. A boy decides he wants to leave home, so asks his father to give him his share of money. He goes off and spends it all on parties, and things he wants, but when his money runs out he loses all his friends, and ends up working on a pig farm. When he finally despairs of the smell, and conditions, and realises how much better just being a servant for his father would be he decides to return home. Before he has even gotten close to home, his father runs to him, shouting for a party of celebration to be organised. He welcomes his son into his arms, and back into his life. He forgets all the things his son has done wrong and forgives him, rejoicing at his return. God loves us so much than even when we turn away and go and do loads of rubbish, He still celebrates when we return to His open arms, and He covers us in His love.
I’ve heard this story a lot. It’s like one of those ones I could tell you upside down and with my eyes shut. But still, I’ve learnt even more from it this week.
I’ve always read that story and centred it around myself. I’ve always thought, ‘Wow! God’s love for me is amazing, it is just simply unimaginable, it is so unconditional, and I am so privileged to have that.’ At Girl talk it hit me, I realised what it really means. I suddenly realised that although it is absolutely about me, there are 7 billion other people it is written about too. I don’t know why it took me so long to understand, but, wow, it was amazing when I did!
I suddenly realised how much this story could change people’s lives. I realised how much depth there is to it. I saw another glimpse of the true and perfect forgiveness that is found in God.
It doesn’t matter what people do, how much rubbish they get themselves into, how much rubbish they’re born into. God doesn’t have a line to cross, however far you go, He still loves you and forgives you just the same when you come running back.
There is a lot of brokenness in this world. It is a world with a crack right through the middle. But God’s love bridges that gap. It lets everyone back in, it is completely inclusive, it is completely unconditional.
There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less. He still loves you no matter what, the celebration He has when someone returns to Him is like no other. He has the most incredible party every time one of His prodigal sons or daughters, returns and says I am lost, I am broken, I don’t know where to turn. He shows them that they are found, He heals their brokenness, and He says, ‘turn to me’.
There are so many people I know who are prodigals. People who once knew God’s love but turned away from it, people who don’t understand what it is to be found by their Maker, people who walk around in circles, thinking they’re right, but not knowing where to go. Jesus’ parable, says, ‘Look, look at what I have for you. Look what God wants for you. Look at how much God loves you, look at how much He cares about you, look at how much His direction can fulfil your life.’
I don’t know, maybe you are prodigal, or maybe you’re not. Either way God loves you in a way I can’t express. He loves you to the ends of the universe and back again, and even further. He loves you beyond infinity. He loves you further than what can be thought about. But in simple terms, He loves you. He loves you right now, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whatever you’ve done, He loves you. If you are a prodigal, He can’t wait to blow up the balloons, and start the party for you r return, but He will wait, He will wait until you’re ready, and even as He is waiting He will love you. If you’re not a prodigal, if you know what it is to be loved by God, and you’re seeking for more of that love, keep going, look for those glimpses of Him in everything. Keep thanking, and praising Him, travel your journey for God. Give it all to Him, and be overflowing with His love.
God is love. And God loves you.
In the Bible it is written;
“Then Jesus said, “A man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the property.’ So the father divided the property between his two sons. Then the younger son gathered up all that was his and travelled far away to another country. There he wasted his money in foolish living. After he had spent everything, a time came when there was no food anywhere in the country, and the son was poor and hungry. So he got a job with one of the citizens there who sent the son into the fields to feed pigs. The son was so hungry that he wanted to eat the pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he realized what he was doing, he thought, ‘All of my father’s servants have plenty of food. But I am here, almost dying with hunger. I will leave and return to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son, but let me be like one of your servants.” ’
So the son left and went to his father.
“While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for his son. So the father ran to him and hugged and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Hurry! Bring the best clothes and put them on him. Also, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get our fat calf and kill it so we can have a feast and celebrate.”