He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 10: What Kind of Father is This?
Anyone hearing Jesus' story for the first time would be shocked at this father's actions. His arrogant son dishonors him by asking for his inheritance while the father is still alive, and who by all indications is nowhere near death's door. What kind of son claims his father's inheritance while he's still alive? How dare he even ask! As rude as the son's request might be, we can at least understand it. We all know what it is to want to get our hands on dad's money, even if most of us are too civil to pursue it. But it's this father who defies comprehension.
What does the father do in response to this outrageous request? He gives it to him. This is even more shocking than the son asking. He divides the inheritance between his two sons and lets him go. How many fathers would do that, especially when they knew the younger son was up to no good? What kind of father is this?
The son squanders his inheritance on his own pleasure, instead of investing it for the future. But the father does not go and nag him. He finally loses it all and ends up destitute. But the father does not try to rescue him.
Where is the father? He is back on the farm, waiting. He doesn't chase after his son to tell him that he's foolish nor does he rush off to buy him dinner when famine hits. He waits. What kind of father is this?
Is he indifferent to his son's plight? Any parent who has ever watched their son or daughter make bad choices, knows that waiting is far more difficult than prodding or nagging. But wait he does, for a marvelous thing to happen-to let the son come to his senses.
We soon find out, however, just how expectant that waiting was. Years later when he returns the father spots him while he is still a long ways off. The only way that would have happened was if the father had been constantly looking. He probably never walked by the road without looking down it, hoping against hope that today would be the day his boy would come home. I can see him with one eye on his work, the other focused down the road, looking for the familiar gait of his beloved son. One day he spots him, even though he would have been emaciated with hunger and hunched over in humiliation. "That's him! That's my boy!"
What does he do now? Does he stand on the porch with arms crossed waiting for his son to walk all the way to the house humiliated, then fall down in the dirt and grovel for his next meal? That's what I might have done. I would even have practiced my I-hope-you-learned-your-lesson speech. Not this father. Without hesitation the father jumps off the porch and runs down the road. This is all the more amazing when you remember how this father would have been dressed. He wouldn't have been wearing pants or jogging shorts, but long, cumbersome robes. In that time it was dishonorable for an older man to run, exposing his legs in the process. But this father again demonstrates his love by sacrificing his own dignity in deference to his son. He hiked up his robes and went barreling down the road as fast as he could run. What kind of father is this?
Can you imagine what his son must have thought when he finally looked up and saw his father bearing down on him? Could he tell if he was joyful or angry? He must have thought the latter, for he launches into his prepared speech even before his father gets there. "I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men."
But his words are not even acknowledged by the father, as he reaches his son and swallows up the words with hugs and kisses of delight. Not a hint of anger comes from the father, nor would he talk one moment about his offer to be his servant. He was too overcome with joy; the son he'd always wanted had found his way home.
Moments later the father's servants arrive. They must have seen him running down the road and chased after him, anxious to see what the father would do to his selfish son. What a shock it must have been for them to come upon such a festival of celebration. The father turns to them too. "Get a robe, a ring, and a new pair of sandals. Stoke up the fire and let's get ready to celebrate."
A party? For the son that squandered the family inheritance on his own selfish pleasures? How could this be? The son deserved punishment not a party! What kind of father is this?