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Still A Long Way Off

prodigal-sonIn the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son. Most know the story – the son asks his father for his inheritance, then leaves, squandering everything in wild living. He eventually comes to his senses, and heads back to his father. There’s lots more of course, but there is a detail in the story that is worth highlighting. It speaks volumes to who God is, as well as His deep love for us.

Jesus says, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him…” How? How did his father see him from a long way off? Why was he looking? Moreover, it’s clear the son wasn’t just a long way off physically, he was also a long way off spiritually. The son returned with an agenda (a plan), trying to bargain for a position as a servant in the family.

But the father (the symbol of God in the story) was on the lookout for him, waiting expectantly that his son would find his way home. The Father seized that one small step of faith toward Him, however faltering, however hesitant, however filled with misconception or agenda that it was.

This turning back to God – this repentance – was a new beginning – a new birth for the son. It was a move from death to Life. Hence the father in the story says, For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

The son turned away from death and got busy living. My favorite line in the film, Shawshank Redemption, is “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying.” Those are our two choices at any given moment.

Have you ever felt like God was looking for you? Calling to you? Perhaps you think you’re not worthy, or that your sorted past (or present) is too much for God to forgive. Many of us can’t understand God’s grace so we go on spinning our wheels trying to make ourselves feel better with books, quotes, philosophical endeavors, lifestyle changes and more. Or we hide by pointing at the religious folks with disdain and judgment instead of facing our own issues with God.

Meanwhile, the Father waits on the watchtower, expectantly – ready to shower us with His love and grace.

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson


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