It’s really quite a contrast. He had fairly skipped away, so eager was he to leave. Now, home he comes…all weak, worn, and weary. For him it had required the far country to reveal the wonders of home. He had to look through the lenses of deep destitution to see what truly mattered. All he had left at that point was the memory of home. So, home he goes. He took with him carefully chosen words. He would not ask for too much. He knew exactly what he deserved. It would be, he knew, the height of mercy, to simply be allowed quarter with the hired hands.
Imagine his amazement when after the long journey he looks up and sees his father, having hiked up his robe, running to him. After many kisses and much embracing, he begins his speech, “Father, I have sinned…I’m not worthy to be called your son.” That’s all he got out. The rest of his speech was interrupted by the welcome home celebration of his father’s love.
Can you believe it? The same sort of welcome awaits all of us sinners who come home to our longsuffering Father God? It’s true!
Ian Maclaren tells a similar sounding story like this. It seems Flora was a prodigal daughter, coming home. Arriving at the door she didn’t have the strength to knock. She could hear her father inside feeling for the latch, and saying nothing but, “Flora, Flora.” She too had her speech, but all she got out was, “Father,” for her father, who had never even kissed her all the days of her youth, held her closely and sobbed out blessings over her head. When Flora later told her friend Margaret about her welcome home, she said that in the Gaelic there are fifty words for ‘darling,’ and that her father called her by every one of them the night she came home.
In the creation of this world, in the unfolding of history and the amazing scheme of redemption that came to its fulness in the life, cross and crown of Jesus Christ, our Father has been busy loving us all the way home. He interrupts our long-rehearsed speech of reasons why we are unworthy of His love and forgiveness in order to hug and kiss us and to get the party started. Now then, what is it that keeps you from Home and from such a Father as awaits you?