Today’s Truth

“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.”

Luke 15:20 NIV

Friend to Friend

Perhaps one of the most memorable and heart-touching stories of grace and forgiveness is recorded in Luke 15. It’s what we’ve come to know as the Story of the Prodigal Son. This young man demanded his inheritance while his father was still alive, spent it all on riotous living, and found himself dirty, destitute, and despairing. As despicable as pigs were to Jews, this young man took a job taking care of pigs and eating their food just to stay alive. But then he had an epiphany.

“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. I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father” (Luke 15:17-20).

And where was his father? He was panning the horizon, hoping for a sign that his boy might return home. Don’t let the depth of that sentence pass you by. The father was PANNING the horizon. Looking. Waiting. Praying.

It is easy to think that God is dispassionately sitting on his throne just waiting for us to come groveling back to him. That’s not the picture Jesus paints at all. The father was panning the horizon. Searching. Pacing. Expectant. That’s how much your heavenly father loves you. There’s nothing passive about it.

While “he was still a long way off” (verse 20), the father spotted his son on the horizon. Filled with compassion, he picked up the edges of his robe and ran. He didn’t wait for his son to come to him, grovel at his feet, and beg for forgiveness. No, as soon as the father caught a glimpse of his son, he dashed toward his boy, smothered him with kisses, and welcomed him home.

If you remember, not everyone was happy when the prodigal son returned. His big brother resented the fact that he got another chance. And you know what? There will be those who resent the fact that we get another chance as well.

“Big brother won’t mind if you come back as long as you hang your head and wear your shame. But when God has the audacity to give you a little dignity back and you dare lift your radiant face to heaven in liberated praise, big brother may be appalled!…It’s pride that can’t celebrate with a prodigal-come-home. Folks who won’t celebrate are still kidding themselves into thinking they did something right to be loved by their Father.”11

I say, let him be appalled. Nothing makes some people angrier than grace. Big brother is invited to the party too, and it’s his decision whether or not he wants to join in the celebration. I’m just glad he’s not the one in charge.

Jesus was telling this story to a group of Pharisees while others also listened in. The typical question asked when telling this story is, are you the prodigal son or the big brother. But here’s where I want you to hang your hat today. Jesus loved both. The prodigal and the big brother. The sinner and the Pharisee. You and me. He pans the horizon looking for all to come to Him. And when we do He says: Let the party begin!

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for never giving up on me. Whether I’m acting like the wayward prodigal or the judgmental big brother, I know that You love me and long for me to take my place in Your loving arms. Father, I’m home.

In Jesus’ Name,


Now It’s Your Turn

Read Luke 15:11-32 in your Bible today.

What impresses you most about the Father’s reaction to his sons?

What is God saying to you from this story today?

More From the Girlfriends

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6 Responses to “Our God of Second Chances”

  1. Gaylon Warner says:

    Very powerful! One of the best descriptions of this story that I have ever read with great advice. Grace wins every time. God is a loving Father.

  2. Lana says:

    This message came at a perfect time (God’s time) for me. We can puff ourselves up with pride for the things we do for others, thinking we deserve special attention and glory, but when it comes right down to it , it’s a matter of the heart and the attitude therein. Thank you Jesus for once again opening my eyes to hidden pride. May I always remember that You love me just as much .

  3. Sarah says:

    I have never needed anything more than these words. Thank you for this huge blessing.

  4. Tyraia says:

    I needed these words as well. The holy spirit spoke to me while reading the passage. When the father seen him in his sight he ran to him. If God sees EVERYTHING he will meet us where we are at. All we have to do is acknowledge we are lost and call on him and he will come for us. Thank you.
    A Prodigal daughter

  5. Cathy says:

    The comment about “the folks who won’t celebrate are still kidding themselves into thinking they did something right to be loved by the Father” was an enlightening insight to me! Jesus did love both and we need to do the same! Thank you for your interpretation of this familiar verse.

  6. Le Grace says:

    This is one of my favorite parables that Jesus taught. Praise God for His love and forgiveness!!

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8