“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: 20
As the youngest child in my family, I witnessed my Dad doing a lot of waiting for my brother and sister. By the time I was in middle school, they were both gone off to have their own lives in the big city, about 4 hours away from our hometown. Every holiday they would say they´d come to visit. Every holiday my Dad would wait for them with great anticipation. Many holidays he´d end up disappointed.
He would sit out in the front porch and quietly swing away the hours to try to be the first one to spot my brother or sister´s cars. He would anxiously talk to my Mom, asking her if she thought they´d left yet. That was the pre-cell phone era, so there was no way to communicate with anyone from the road. There was nothing left to do but wait and hope.
Many times night would fall upon him as he waited outside, so he´d come inside and sit in his favorite rocking chair in the Livingroom, eyes constantly on the big picture window just in case the passing headlights might be them. Finally, often late in the night, the sound of a vehicle in the driveway would propel my Dad up from his chair toward the door to be the first one to greet them as they got out of their cars. I always sensed, by the expression of sheer joy in his face, that the very sight of my brother and his family and my sister instantly erased the agony of the wait from my Dad´s heart.
Later, he would wait for me too. As I packed my bags and moved to a whole other country, far, far away, my Father would wait for my yearly visits in anguish and anticipation. His would be the first face I’d see in the ocean of faces at the airport. His would be the last one I’d glanced at in sadness as I went through security to catch my flight back to the States. It wasn’t, however, until I became a parent, that I truly understood the pain and agony my Dad experienced every time he saw me leave.
Life would have it that my Dad spent the last four years of his life waiting for my brother to come back home, but he never did, so my Dad passed from this life to the next without seeing his face one last time. Once again, I witnessed the dagger that cut through his heart as he waited for his long lost son.
Today, I know he continues to wait on the other side of the shore. I picture him sitting in his rocking chair at his eternal dwelling, next to my Mom…waiting for that day when we would too come back home…this time for good.
So is Our Heavenly Father, waiting for our return. He sees us while we are still long way off, heart filled with compassion, filled with love, as He rushes out to meet us. Unlike my Father, however, God knows we will come back to Him, for He directs our steps and He traces our path. Unlike my Father, God’s waiting is purposeful, for He uses it to guide us out of the gutter and to help us grow. Unlike my Father, God’s perfect plan for His children includes a happy reunion in the end.
Tomorrow we will see more about the Father Figure in the story of the lost son, and how the love of our earthly Fathers often points toward the love of our Father above.