ran (verb): moved in a faster way than walking; went rapidly or hurriedly, rushed 

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.”  Luke 15:20

When we read the story of the prodigal son, most of us can relate to one brother or the other. The younger one who didn’t play by the rules and went his own way, or the older one who dutifully, responsibly lived on the estate and worked the fields.

One defiant and disrespectful, and the other resentful and proud. Both self-serving, like all of us are a lot of the time.

But no matter which of the sons we identify with, we can be so incredibly grateful that we have the same kind of Father that they did.

A father that looked often for his wayward son. I imagine that several times a day he would go to a place on his property where he could see the farthest and scour the landscape…just in case. Watching for any sign of him, waiting hopefully, never giving up.

A father that saw his son coming home when he was still a “long way off” and ran to him.  With a pounding heart, absolute joy, and complete forgiveness, this ecstatic father ran to meet his son. He didn’t stand there with arms crossed, waiting for an apology. He didn’t list all the ways his son had hurt him and caused him grief. He just ran and practically tackled him–hugging and kissing him as he welcomed him home.

A father that wrapped his filthy, stinky son in the finest robe, placed a ring on his finger, and prepared a generous celebration feast in his honor. A father who held nothing back as he instantly restored his son to his place in the family.

A father that tended to the stinging heart of his other son, too. He made sure his faithful older son knew he was understood, appreciated, still so important to him. And he reassured him that all the celebrating of his brother’s return would take nothing away from the relationship that they shared.

This is the kind of Father we have. No matter what kind of kid we are. This is how deeply our God cares about us too, how well he knows us, how quick he is to forgive, and how extravagant he is in his love toward us. 

I love how Charles Spurgeon describes God showing this kind of love:

“God comes flying in the greatness of His compassion to help every poor penitent soul.”

I love that. God comes flying. He runs to us. No matter where we have been, what we have done, how hurtful our choices have been. Even if we feel like we have been his responsible, obedient ones and think we might not need as much forgiveness as the more rebellious types. He is slow to anger, abounding in love.

And it doesn’t take him any time at all to welcome us home.

Invite Him in: Do you want to go home? Do you want to be restored to the God who loves you more than you can ever imagine? He has spotted you, and he is running toward you. Don’t let shame or fear or doubt or pride get in the way of the overwhelming, all-consuming, grace-filled hug that is coming your way.