Friday, December 6, 2013

You Really Can Come Back

*This is a re-posting of a blog I wrote a few years back. This Sunday, December 8, at 11 a.m., I will be speaking at Hunter Road Baptist Church, and on this passage from Luke 15. Friends, prayers would be greatly appreciated. ~ Enjoying the Adventure

Tired eyes dimmed by the years stared at the horizon. Nothing moved. Weathered brown hands came to rest just above his hips -- hands of a working man. Calloused hands that had firmly yet gently held the moral reins that guided the two boys he had raised on his own.

A few miles away a bundle of tattered rags staggered along a faint cattle path under a noonday blaze. Hot, arid winds blasted and whipped a shaggy, tangled mop of hair. Once young and innocent, a face etched deep with lines of fatigue and worry squinted at the bright sky. Olive skin, overexposed to the sun, glowed reddish brown. “Is it even possible what I am experiencing is real?” The young man mused. He bore all the markings of a beaten man.

Heat from the unrelenting orb forced the broken figure into the shadow of a ledge, but as the sun made its steady march across the sky the rock no longer provided shelter. Sweat soaked his shirt, making it cling to his back. Curly, oily locks, pasted to his forehead. Salty brine dripped into his puffy eyes causing them to sting. It was an effort to even stand. Stiffly, he raised himself to his feet.

“How much farther is it?” he wondered. His next thoughts were rehearsed lines. Even his body language was carefully choreographed. With feigned humility he bowed his head, and pitifully mumbled “Father, I have sinned against heaven…” But a subtle change began, and tears of regret began carving muddy streams down his cheeks. Genuine sorrow released a fountain. It was so different; he was no longer sorry for himself -- he had sinned against his God and his father. Just then he crested a hill and there in the valley was the homestead.

Inside, as he did everyday, the old man strode to the window. Hands on his hips, he stooped and gazed out across the expanse to the elevated horizon. The boy was always the first thing on his mind. What?Off in the distance, crinkled heat waves warped a wraith-like form that weakly stumbled across the pasture. All of the father's senses were brought to bear on the faint image wobbling toward him. His heart began to race. Suddenly, his aged legs became young again and he bolted for the door!

As the young man began weaving his way down the rough, sloping terrain the entire yard below burst into activity. Fear gripped him. His still twisted thinking immediately convinced him that the workers, like an angry mob, were coming to exact revenge for all the pain the ungrateful rebel had caused their beloved master! His thoughts deceived him -- again. Running away was not an option. In a split second the prodigal came to this morbid conclusion: “I would rather be dead than live as I am. Let them do as they wish. It will be over soon.”

As the throng closed in, what he saw filled him with the greatest terror yet--his father was leading the charge! Closing his eyes, he stiffened and waited for the impact. At the last second, his only hope for mercy spontaneously poured out across his cracked lips: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son…” No furious collision took place. Instead, compassionate arms surrounded him. His matted head was pressed tightly against his elderly father’s chest. It had been a long time since the prodigal had heard -- or understood -- the beat of his father’s heart. Trembling, the tearful father could not stop kissing the filthy face he now held in his hands. “You were dead but are alive again!” Over and over his father tearfully repeated his own rehearsed lines.

This day had been prepared for, intensely prayed for, and dreamed of since the day the headstrong malcontent walked away. Immediately the shredded clothing that bore evidence of the strain and wear of his sin was stripped away. His nakedness was covered with a beautiful robe. Over a dirty nail the family signet was slipped on his finger. Servants knelt before the prodigal and bathed his once wayward feet, soothing the tender bruises with oil and soft leather.

The prodigal was home -- safe -- forgiven -- accepted.

Off in the distance a young calf struggled against the slick edge of a knife crossing its throat. Sweet aromas of a wood fire wafted in the air. There was laughter again! Singing echoed across the hills. Music for dancing filled the house.


  1. Bill:

    I've always appreciated your posting and they frequently speak to me. Please know that I pray for you and Sandy everyday. Your Brother in Christ, Steve

    1. Thanks, Steve. Say hi to your family and I hope you have a great Christmas. Be strong.