You know what it’s like when you are far from home and feeling a bit homesick. Memories of home and family come flooding back. You think of relatives, good cooking, favorite pets, funny moments, life-giving conversations. The prodigal son knows this experience like
While he is out there in the world, hungry, lost, and homesick, he keeps recalling all those things they say about home: “home is where the heart is,” “home is the place where when you show up, they have to take you in,” “home is where your story begins.”
The prodigal decides to change his ways and head for the place he left. Now that his life has fallen apart, he will return to his roots and go back to the only foundation he has ever known. He will return to the place where his story began. But he knows this chapter will definitely be different. He can’t expect to return as though nothing has happened. He works on his speech during the long trip back, hoping his dad will agree to let him become a hired hand. He heads home gazing downward, his shame intact.
While the son is still far off, his father spots him. He sees the son of his love, the one he has fervently hoped would return. The father greets him with celebration, affection, and gifts. The father’s welcome overwhelms this prodigal.
God’s welcome for us is much the same. When we repentantly return to God, we discover the love of a Savior who has been fervently longing for this moment. God receives us with a warm embrace and a face filled with relief. In God’s love, we find welcome and a place to call home.
When have you felt the surprising joy of being received with God’s warm embrace?
Gracious God, remind me that no matter where I go or what I do, I am always your child. Thank you for always welcoming me home with open arms and overflowing love. Amen.