He waited, craning his neck, looking at the horizon that seemed to shimmer and dance in the heat. For many days and weeks he had looked and waited, hoping and eagerly anticipating the figure he so longed to see. His heart ached again as he looked at the empty horizon and a tear trickled down his weathered face. A piece of him was missing and he so wanted it back. He would never give up hope of seeing her beloved face again. Day after day he looked and waited, wishing her back to him. As he sadly shook his head and began to turn away, movement caught his eye. He looked up quickly, his heart somersaulting in his chest. A butterfly flitted by and his disappointment was etched on his countenance. Then he saw her. She looked tired and weak dragging her feet like leaden weights over the dusty hill. Her posture spoke volumes. He saw the defeated slump of her shoulders and how her head drooped in shame and failure and his heart swelled with love for her. She had come home. Quickly he ran from the homestead and out onto the dusty road that wound its way up the hill. He ran as though his very life depended on it. As he appraoched her he could smell the stench of unworthiness and the fear in her, but none of it mattered to Him. She could not look him in the eye and she cast her eyes downward at the stony ground like a child waiting to be chastised. She waited for his words of anger and rejection but they didn’t come. When she looked up into his face she saw the face of love. He flung his arms around her in a love embrace, nestling his face into her neck and kissing her tenderly, breathing in all the fear, rejection, self-loathing and shame and replacing it with unconditional acceptance. Her tears flowed down onto his shoulder as she asked for forgiveness and promised she would try harder and would work harder to make the relationship work. He listened for a brief while and then placed his finger over her lips to silence her. He carried her the last few steps up to the homestead and called for his servants to bring her his robe and his treasured possessions. As she looked in confusion up to him he smiled the smile of pure love and acceptance. Her heart broke again and she cried, “I’m sorry Daddy, I’ve let you down.” He wiped her tears away, hugged her and said “Welcome home my daughter – you could never disappoint me for I love you more than life itself and everything I have is yours. As his words sank into her mind and into her heart she felt secure and safer than she had in a long time. She was home and looking into the eyes of love.
The last few years God has been making this a reality to me as I read the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. In a sense I have walked this very road, and even though it has not been a road of rebellion and walking away from God, I have understood this journey simply because I have not understood the Father’s love for me and how precious I am to Him. I had a wrong perception of God and viewed Him as being stern and so Holy that my mistakes would require Him to judge me and for me to have to work harder to receive His acceptance and love. This left me feeling unworthy and feeling guilty or never good enough to please Him when actually all He wanted was for me to come to him and receive the unconditional love that He has for me. This is a journey I have learned and now that His love has become real to me, I never want to be anywhere else other than His presence. He feels the same way about you and He really wants a relationship with you – it’s not about rules that have to be followed and laws that will keep you in bondage – it is all about a creator who wants to know you and wants to know your struggles. How he loves us and longs for us to want Him. It is not a sign of weakness to need Him – rather it takes great courage and trust and admit that we need Him and his love in our lives.