Was reading Luke 15 this morning, which I'm sure this title indicates to you. This story is so common, and, especially as Christians, we tend to flip through it because it's so, well, as I said, common. I've been trying to slow down and process it each time I've read it during the "Luke" project the Lord laid on me in January. [Actually, this is my last phase. Will have read ten translations, once each, and the Amplified version five times, intermixed with the others.] ANYHOW, there's one phase of the son's life that always makes me grin and today it hit even harder.
When he decided to leave for home he said that he would tell his Father, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Just make me like one of your hired servants." Then he left. And, when Father saw him coming he was moved with "pity and tenderness and compassion" for him and "embraced him and kissed him [fervently]."
And the son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son [I no longer deserve to be recognized as a son of yours]!"
SO.... How many of us, after sinning against someone and heading towards that person with the desire to restore our relationship to even the tiniest, faintest level, and, then, having them run to us, throw their arms around us, and hold us and love us -- before we even have a chance to open our mouths-- would follow through with the original intent? Some would, of course. Some, however, might simply have the thought of "Whew, I don't have to say what I planned. We're OK now." In my case, that's real food for thought.
The next portion always makes me grin. Father says to the servants, "Bring the robe of honor, and give him a ring and sandals...."
The son has been poverty-stricken, starving to death, working with pigs ... would be dirty, stinky, scruffy, ragged. Yet, Dad says... go get the best stuff and give it to him. He does not say ... "Get him a bath, shave, haircut, and brush his teeth!"
His Father received him and accepted him exactly the way he was when he returned home. That's really good to remember, both as parents with "prodigal sons" and as people who simply ain't perfect and turn off the path our Lord has laid before us. With this example, it encourages us to quickly and lovingly accept our "prodigals" back. It also helps us know that when we "prodigalize" for a time, and we return to Him, we will be received with warmth and love into the arms of our Father.
Ain't nothin' better than that.