The Prodigal Father

by Ed Ollie, Jr.

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look that becomes a habit.” – Peter Ustinov

I like stories. As I get older, I’m particularly drawn to stories that have faceless people. By society’s standards, their narratives wouldn’t make the evening news, local paper or even a Facebook mention.

In the Bible, there is a book called Luke. In chapter 15 of the book, there is a story told about a Father and his two sons. I don’t want to give it away, but verse 20 is particularly telling. Listen to the words.

“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).

I can’t get away from those four words. There is something about a father “seeing you”. This common story, often, reflects the grace extended to the son. However, I believe it was told to reveal the radical, outlandish, unpredictable love the father shows to his underserving child. It was a model of what was to come…why Jesus came in the first place: to seek and save that which was lost.

I love my biological father. He loves me. Our relationship; however, is complicated. I recently sat in a movie theater with my wife, watching American playwright August Wilson’s screen adaptation of “Fences”. This complicated, yet glorious use of words, depicted the painful inner struggle of a prodigal father. Living a life of unfulfilled purpose, all the while trying to love and provide for those to whom God had entrusted to his protection. Sometimes, as fathers, we can become the prodigal.

Morris Adler says, “Our prayers are answered not when we are given what we ask, but when we are challenged to be what we can be.” I’ve often thought of what the relationship may have been like with the father’s own father. While his son was away squandering the gift of his inheritance, possibly, the father reflected on his own life. Maybe, just maybe, he knew what it was like to not only think about grace, but also to receive it.

God takes joy in adopting sons and daughters. He loves to throw parties, routinely, for those who say “yes” to Him. He stands there with welcome arms, begging for each of us to come home.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” –Albert Schweitzer.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir" (Gal. 4:4-7 NIV).

Are you more like the father, or the son, today?

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