And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry (Luke 15:17-24).
These few verses reflect a beautiful instance of reunion and restoration. However, the preceding verses speak of the terrible situation that brought this young man to this point.
You see, this young man had it made. Maybe he couldn’t see that. Maybe he didn’t want to see that. Whatever the case, he selfishly demanded his share of the inheritance from his father and set out on his own. Joining himself to the wrong people, he spent everything he had in a short time.
Severe famine came upon the land. Broke, busted and starving, he began working to survive- feeding swine. He was so hungry that he would have eaten the husks that the swine left. Recognizing his hopeless situation, he began to think that his father’s servants were doing much better than he was. Deciding to go home, he put together a speech to deliver to his father. This speech was totally unnecessary!
Unknown to him, his father was watching for him- and had been watching the whole time. Seeing his son coming down the road, he ran to him, hugged him and kissed him out of sheer joy to have him back. What about the speech? It was interrupted before it could be finished. The father said, “Put the best robe on him. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. Let’s celebrate my son’s homecoming!”
What does this story have to do with us? It is a true picture of how our Heavenly Father wants to relate to us.
How many times have we left Him because of our own selfish desires? How many times have we figured out that the grass is not greener on the other side? How many times have we decided that life cannot be better than it is when we depend on God to be our Father?
It is interesting to note that we have a tendency to think that we have messed up so badly that God will not want anything to do with us. Out of fear, shame and remorse
We fashion a speech that we hope will get us back into His good graces. It is then that we have the prodigal son’s experience.
We don’t realize it, but God has been waiting for us to come to our senses. He has been watching for us to come back- ready to run in our direction. What about the speech? It is certainly right to repent when we sin. However, God doesn’t just hear the words; God sees the heart. Reunion with our Heavenly Father and restoration to our place at His table requires very few words when our hearts are truly sincere.
So, when we fail God and seem so far away from Him we need to remember the story of the Prodigal Son is also our story. We can prepare the speech. However, we can expect it to be interrupted by our Heavenly Father who simply wants us to come back home.
Dave Snyder is an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God – Cleveland, Tennessee. Before entering the ministry on a full-time basis, he was a school teacher. He also coached middle school basketball for eight years.
Dave and his wife, Sara, have two children — Craig and Karen. They also have one ten year old granddaughter — Breanna.
Dave and Sara pastored in West Virginia for thirty-six years. Sara is now retired from the banking industry, and Dave is retired from pastoring. However, Dave currently serves as prison Chaplain for the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Writing essays, articles, and devotionals is a real passion for Dave. He also enjoys playing musical instruments and singing.