Have you ever been totally and completely in love with God and then found yourself falling into sin you never expected?
Have you ever thought about turning to God but felt like your past - your failures, sins, disappointments - made you too much for Him?
Have you ever felt unworthy? Or like forgiveness is something for people who haven’t messed up quite as badly as you have?
Have you ever felt trapped?
I’ve been there. I know how it feels.
It’s hard to believe what you read in Scripture and what you are taught about forgiveness and redemption and restoration when it feels like you’re stuck in the middle of hopelessness. When you don’t feel good enough. When you don’t see how a good, holy God could really forgive after the 17,000th time.
And this morning I read the story of the prodigal son. I’ve heard it so many times but something is different today.
The father had two sons. They younger asked for his inheritance, left home, and squandered it on worthless riches and prostitutes. He wasted every last penny and landed in destitution. He was feeding slop to pigs.
Then he decided to go back to his Father, expecting nothing but maybe the hope to become a servant in his Father’s household.
Oh but wait,
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’”
So now, think about it this way.
Your heavenly Father sees you broken and weary, ravaged by sin and hanging on to your one last hope.
Does He turn away?
No, He starts running.
When you turn around and start to come back to Him, He runs to meet you. He can’t wait. He is filled with joy and he won’t even let you finish your desperate pleas before he is celebrating you. He restores you not as his servant, but as his son.
You see, it’s because it doesn’t matter how “bad” you’ve been. Whatever the unspeakable thing you’ve done -- it doesn’t matter. No, that doesn’t mean we get a free pass to sin as much as we like because God doesn’t care. Our sin grieves Him. But it’s never so bad that He won’t forgive. It’s never so bad that He won’t run to meet us when we turn to go home.
So turn around. Take a few steps toward Him
and then look up over the hill and see Him running to get you.
Be loved, for You are His beloved.
*Luke 15: 20-24, The Message