Everyone’s favorite Christmas film is It’s A Wonderful Life. It tells the story of George Bailey who lives in Bedford Falls. George is a dreamer. He dreams of going to college, traveling the world and becoming an architect. But his dad dies and George must take over the family business. He does, gets married and settles down in boring Bedford Falls.
One day disaster strikes. George’s uncle loses a lot of the business money and can’t find it. George cracks. He criticizes his uncle, and screams at his wife and kids. Everything is wrong. It seems like it’s a wonderful life for everyone but George.
Desperate, sitting in a bar, at his lowest point, George pours his heart out in a prayer. ‘Father, if you are there, show me the way.’ That’s the turning point of the movie. God answers his prayer but not in the way he expected. To see how, watch the movie!
What was true of George, was also true in the story we are looking at that Jesus told to show what His Father is like. The boy in our story had stormed out of the house leaving his father devastated. He travels to a distant land, wastes all the money looking for love and friendship. When the money is gone he gets a job feeding pigs.
He is hungry for food but also hungry for his father’s love. So when he hits bottom, he starts thinking about his father. And he begins his journey home.
What Has Dad Been Doing?
Meanwhile, back home, the father was waiting for his son to return. Day and night, waiting at the gate to the house. Looking in the direction his son had gone. Longing for a reunion with his boy. He’s not bitter, he’s not angry. He is simply patiently waiting for his boy to return. Everyday looking and watching for him. This is some father.
It’s a hard thing for a parent whose child runs away from home. It’s a tough thing for a parent whose child stays at home yet runs away from love. In both cases, the parent is left worrying over the choices the child is making, longing for a change of heart. Those who endure such times know this.
Jesus tells us that while the boy is still a long way off his father sees him coming! The father’s been watching and looking for a long time. And he’s watching and looking today. That’s why he sees him while still a long way away. We don’t know how many days he scanned the horizon. How many nights he lit a torch. But we know the waiting would be paired with an aching heart. But he kept watching and he finally saw him coming.
The boy had lost everything except for one thing. He had lost his home, his money, his dignity, his reputation and his security. But the one thing he never lost was his father’s love. His father watched, his father waited, his father saw.
I cannot put into words what it feels like to see your boy returning after all those months of waiting. But one thing I do know, is that you must let go for them to come back.
This was a full on, heartfelt waiting based on an intense longing for restored intimacy. Your true Father is waiting for you as the father in this story waited for his son.
Jesus is saying something incredibly significant about His father in this story. Our Father in heaven is waiting for us to return to His arms of love. This waiting involves watching with tear stained eyes. He is waiting for you. His greatest desire is to be reunited with you.
There is, however, a significant difference in this story than how God waits. The father in the story waited until the son returned. While our Father also waits, He didn’t wait indefinitely. Motivated by love, our Father did something while He waited. He sent someone to show us the way home. To make it possible for us to return home. It wasn’t a servant nor hired man. He sent His Son. Jesus came to find us, make it possible to return and then showed us the way.
And that way is open to all of us. NO MATTER WHAT!
Merry Christmas everyone.