Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lessons Learned #3--A Father Welcomes Us Home


Luke 15:11-24
11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father. "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.
21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[
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22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.




When you are a new parent, one of the big moments of excitement and worry is when you get to take your children home from the hospital and welcome them into your home. I think this might be especially true with your first child. You have been preparing your home for months. You get a room ready as a nursery. You get all those little baby toys and baby furniture items put together. You gather hand-me downs. Your church throws a baby shower for you, your bride, and the little baby to come.

You organize the clothes by age. You buy plenty of diapers. Or at least, what you think is plenty of diapers until a week after you get home. You prepare the house for the baby to be in it. You get the base for the car seat set for the new little child to be in it. Jennifer even wanted me to take the car into that Octopus car wash and get an express detail for the baby so that the car would be as clean as it could be when we brought our baby home.

The moment comes when the doctor says that momma and baby are free to come home, and you put that precious cargo in your car. I told Jennifer not to be surprised if I drove 5 miles an hour down Highway 50 all the way home. The truth was I went about 50, but I was still driving slow, deliberately, and cautiously.

I discovered my normal laid back approach to driving fading, and being replaced by a newly minted road rage as I got frustrated at every car that cut in front of us or rode to closely to our bumper. I scolded them from inside my car, and told them in no uncertain terms, that we had a baby on board inside our car and should show us more respect.

I was more excited, I think, to bring our new baby inside the home we had been preparing for her arrival than when I came into our apartment for the first time as a married couple with Jennifer after our honeymoon. We had prepared a place for our baby. We were welcoming her home.

When Jesus was about to go to the cross, he said this, “In my Father’s house are many mansions (or rooms depending on the translation). I go to prepare a place for you…”

Just like we spent over 9 months waiting for our baby to arrive in our home, preparing, anticipating, hoping and dreaming, God has a place set aside for you. Jesus is preparing that place for you. There is a lot of anticipation in God’s heart, and hope for your homecoming.
Jesus told this story about this father, who son had spurned him. The Father is supposed to be like God, the son like those who had strayed far from God and went their own way. The rebellious son had taken his inheritance early and ran away to a land far away. He had gone broke spending all his money on loose women and wild living. He had his share of fun, sure. But when the money and parties had run out, so did the fun. He looked around and he was broke, he was lonely, friendless, with very little hope. All those things he thought would make him happy had led to a dead end.

He decided to go back to his father’s home and be a hired hand for his father. When the father, who represents our heavenly father, was out one day he looked off in the distance. He saw the son. He must have been looking out there every day hoping his child would come home. The father ran to his son and threw his arms around him. He called him his son. He put the family ring on his finger. He threw a party for the lost son. He prepared a feast. He welcomed him.
Friends, our Heavenly Father is always ready to welcome us home.

You may be coming toward the end of your life, and you may be thinking of eternity. Remember, just like some parents preparing a place for their newborn child, God is preparing a place for you.
You may have run away from God. You may have wasted most of your money and your life on wild, selfish living. Know this. God is eagerly awaiting your return to him and his ways. He has a feast prepared for you. He is eager to welcome you home.

Either way, God is waiting eagerly for your homecoming. He is anticipating that moment when he can walk you into his home, and say “Here is my boy! Here is my girl! After all this waiting, the family is finally home. Together.”

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