On a recent walk with my daughter, Zoe had a lovely time jumping in puddles along a muddy track. Initially the puddles were small and shallow, and as the walk progressed, the fun increased; not least because the puddles seemed to get wider, longer and deeper! My warnings went on unheeded and, wonderfully ignorant of the vast amount of water that she was splashing into her wellies, Zoe kept up her enthusiastic jumping and kicking for a long time. The squeals of laughter were loud and clear and her face beamed with her new-found game.
But then it all changed. Burdened by heavy, water-filled wellies and the cold starting to set in, Zoe began to trip, stagger and fall into the muddiest patches that there were around. The fun gone, Zoe simply turned to me, arms outstretched and, with a very glum look on her face said, “Up.”
Of course, as her Mum, I picked her up without thinking, longing to comfort her and warm her up. As she snuggled into my neck, I felt the muddy water seeping through my jeans and I knew she would not be the only one needing a change of clothes when we got home.
As I put Zoe in the car and wrapped her up in my warm coat, I thought about this famous story of the prodigal son. A young man who left his father’s house thinking that life had more for him than his father would allow. His good upbringing must have pricked his conscience many times as he fell into his spiral of wrong behaviour. But, just as Zoe didn’t notice her increasingly wet legs or muddy splashes on her coat, this son just went further and further along the road of enjoyment, with little or no care as to the consequences.
Just as Zoe reached the point where the consequences couldn’t be ignored anymore, so did the son and then there was only one place where both of them knew they would find the comfort, security and restoration they needed.
The father’s welcome in the story, and thus the welcome our Heavenly Father has for us, is one of no concern for His own self but purely for that His children. Our response to this love should be nothing more complicated than Zoe’s, “Up.” No reasoning, no begging, no pleading, no explaining... just “Up,” into the arms of a loving Father who takes on Himself the dirt and grime of our lives, with a heart that is just full of delight to be with His child again.
Prayer: Father God, I know that I sin and I live my life for my own enjoyment at times, with no concern of the consequences. Help me not to fear You but to truly know that You love me so much You wait for me with arms outstretched, waiting to restore me back to life in You. Amen.
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