Jesus is arguably the greatest teacher that ever lived. No one has succeeded in leaving his mark like He has. One of the reasons that is true is that he used stories as a primary vehicle for sharing eternal truth. The story we are looking at is considered the story of all his stories.
You will remember from the last blog post, that Jesus told this story to tell us what God, the Father, is like. It involves a boy who can’t wait for his father to die and wants his inheritance right now. The father obliges and off the boy goes and squanders it all on partying etc. Broke, he returns home hoping his father will make him one of the hired men. It’s the best he can hope for. The father is so excited to see him he welcomes back as a son and throws a huge party to celebrate his return. You can read the story in the Bible in Luke 15:11-32.
Last time, I said I found ten attributes of God in this story that, when put together, gives us a wonderful picture of what God is like. Today, we look at the first attribute: the patient Father.
‘So the father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.’
It is hard for us today, in our culture, to understand just how offensive it was for this boy to go to his father wanting his inheritance early. It was scandalous in the patriarchal society Jesus lived. It was totally dishonouring. Like saying, ‘drop dead, dad’.
Equally as shocking is how the father responded. He did not berate the boy, nor did he deny the request. He said, ‘yes’. This was an amazing father. No one would have criticized him for slamming his son and kicking him out. But he doesn’t. That’s patience. Great patience.
Patience has been defined as the ability to endure pain without complaining.
That describes this father well. And there was pain for the father. This was a hurting father. Ultimately, the son totally rejected his father. He rejected him as a person. He rejected his history. He rejected his lifestyle. Many of us know the pain of rejection.
Yet the father does not respond by rejecting his son. He simply and quietly lets him go. ‘You can have what you ask for. You must experience the consequences but I will never stop loving you. I will always be here for you. Always.’
Here is a man with an open hand, not a clenched fist. He was on the receiving end of very hurtful behaviour yet responded patiently, calmly and with love. The man in this story is a truly patient father and so is your Father. This is our Father in heaven.
The stories Jesus told were everyday stories with a spiritual meaning. They tell us something about God and how we relate to Him and He to us. The two main reasons Jesus came to earth was to show us what Father was like and to show us the way home, back to Him. Jesus is saying that God is your/my father and firstly, He is a patient Father. Patient with us and happy to welcome us back home.
We have a patient Father in Heaven.
That’s the first lesson on what God is like. You may have rejected Him, like the boy, or simply neglected Him. Behaved like He didn’t exist. Either way, He still shows you and me incredible patience, giving us time to turn around, come home, experience His embrace. And when we do, no matter what we’ve done, where we are or what we have become, He welcomes us back just like the father in the story welcomed his son home.
It’s a lie that you have messed up too badly to ever return to your heavenly Father. That His patience with you has run out. Maybe that has been true of an earthly parent, but it is not true of God. That’s far from the truth. Just ask Jesus.
Someone else has said that patience is the art of caring very slowly. My hope is that you will not presume on that patience any longer but that you will see what God is really like, how He longs for you, that you will come running home. His arms are open wide and wants to throw a party.
It would be cruel of me to tell you that, no matter what, you can come home to Father God and experience the joy of being where you belong without telling you how to do that. It is so simple!
Simply believe in your heart that Jesus is God, He died for you and rose again so you could be reunited with Father. THAT’S IT! Don’t let anyone tell you different. For more on this, see my blog post, ‘Therefore…’ at www.gettingbacktomyfuture.com or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a story about God’s great patience shown to you?
If so, why not share it with us? Go to my blog site given in the last paragraph, click on this posting and add your story in the comments section at the end of the post. Or email me. Would love to hear from you.
Remember, whether you have reject or neglected Him, please hear your patient, heavenly Father as He says, ‘I don’t care where you are, I don’t care what you have done, I don’t care what you have become. I love you, please come home.’
Next time: A Waiting Father.