I didn’t know what the word “prodigal” meant for years. I used to assume that it meant ‘thankless’ or maybe ‘irresponsible.’ This was based on the context in the Prodigal Son parable that Jesus tells His followers. It’s always used in relation to the son. Well, it turned out that “prodigal” means “extravagant,” and recklessly so.
For me, that refers more to the father and his love for his son. The son has a limited amount of resources which he spends foolishly. The father has an unlimited amount of love to lavish upon his son. It is so much more than any financial gift he could ever give his children.
So, I like to contemplate the extravagant father. Oh, the son may have his wasteful tendencies, for sure. But that father is waiting for him to return. That father will look for him, expect him, every day. And one glorious day, he sees his son coming! There’s a slight figure on the horizon, as the sun is beginning to set. Father sees child and knows that precious gait even from this distance. It’s his boy, coming home!
And so the father begins to run toward his son with nothing but joy and love in his heart. The young man sees this old man ‘running’ toward him, although it’s more like a slow jog due to his dad’s age, and having not run in decades, and wearing robes that he must lift up around his knees to run toward his beloved son. And then the son, aware that his dad is not angry and will not turn him away with wrath in his eyes and his voice, but his dad will open his arms and welcome his son with a smile on his lips and a hearty belly laugh, well, that young man begins to run toward his old man! It’s like a scene in a movie, as any great parable would be! (When the Master Storyteller is on the job, we’re going to be able to imagine just what it looks like as the story unfolds.)
His dad will rejoice at his son’s return. For he was ‘dead’ and his been brought back to life! Alleluia! Praise the Lord!
Never feel you have gone too far to receive a warm welcome in your Father’s arms. You never can travel outside of His love for you. And the forgiveness that He is so ready to give you, as He awaits your return, will overwhelm your senses. You will be welcomed home by the One who loves you more than anyone ever could.
Bring your troubles, your sadness, your regrets. Whatever your reason for hesitating, you can forget about it. He will swat it away as He throws His arms around you and pulls you to Him. He’ll pick you up and swing you around like a rag doll! Full of joy, overflowing with love.
Here’s Matt Maher’s song about running to the Father. Don’t delay!