Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thoughts on the Prodigal Son

"When he came to his senses, he said... 'I will go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called you son...'

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." - Luke 15:17-20

While he was still a long way off.  This phrase stands out to me profoundly.  The son was not even home before the father came to embrace him.  How is it that the father saw his son while he was still a long way off?  Was he standing on the stoep every day scanning the horizon for news of his son's return, anxiously hoping against all hope for a reconciled relationship despite his son's folly?

I find myself wanting to hide from God (as if that were even possible) when I mess up.  I chastise myself for my lack of performance, lack of perfection.  I knew better, I tell myself.  God must surely be cross with me.  I wonder what the consequences of my sin will be this time?  Whatever they are, I am sure I deserve them.

Yet while I am still a long way off, I hear God's voice wooing - yes, wooing - me from a distance.  "Anna, come home. You're so far away. I'm waiting for you..." When I finally come into view, my head bowed with shame and remorse, He doesn't lecture me, doesn't shout and berate me for my poor choices.  He runs to me, tears in His eyes, scoops me up in His arms and twirls me around, holding me ever so close to His heart.  "I've missed you so much."

God seems to be more interested in relationship than keeping score.  He seems to place an emphasis on love and not performance. I begin to realise how backwards I've gotten it all these years and while I desperately want to be like God, the way He loves people is so foreign to the way I love them.

There are times when the only word I can think to pray is, "Help."


Unknown said...

Thank you for this great post. Do you happen to have a large version of this image? I have a prodigal son who I pray will come home someday. Thanks, Scott

Anna said...

I don't, unfortunately. I'm so sorry. I am also sorry about your son. Please accept my prayers as well.

Lynn Pedersen said...

This painting was done for Church of the Holy Spirit Kirstenhof, Cape Town. They could maybe help re posters of postcards. +27 21 701 3201. Alternatively contact the previous rector who was friend of the artist, Rev Richard Fotherhgill, at

Anna said...

Thank you so much for the info! I'm so glad to know who to credit! Do you know who the artist was?