“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
This parable of the prodigal son is a beautiful picture of God’s forgiveness and compassion. When we finally come to the point of recognizing our sin and coming back to God, He doesn’t stand there and look the other way, pretending not to see us coming. That’s kind of what we do, isn’t it? We pretend to go about our business as if the offense doesn’t bother us and that we will be just fine if the person never apologizes and comes back to reconcile the relationship. We pretend to give up while quietly holding a grudge. Then when the person finally apologizes and tries to make things right, we usually have one of two reactions. Sometimes we tersely respond with something along the lines of “It’s ok” or “I forgive you” and leave it at that to avoid the awkwardness of the emotional healing or perhaps to simply let them know we are still displeased about whatever happened. Other times, we respond by laying into them with how bad the offense was and how it better never happen again.
God isn’t that way with us and I’m so glad! Not only does He let go of the offense, and He also doesn’t stand firmly in place and force us to come all the way to Him. He runs to us as soon as we humble ourselves and start to walk back! He makes it so incredibly easy to come back home and restore the relationship.
Now, God doesn’t do anything that needs forgiving, but stop and think about how often we run after Him the way He runs to us…
For many people in today’s America, our coming to God is usually defined by crawling back or reluctantly following. How often do we really run to Him other than when we have a problem for Him to fix? How often do we run to God with joy after recognizing His work in our life? How often do we run to God tell Him about our excitement or hopes and dreams? How often do we run to God because we just enjoy being in His presence?
Too often, we have such a one-sided relationship with God. Even if we take all of our needs to Him and lean on Him when times are hard, it stops there and we neglect sharing our joy with Him. Have you ever had a friend or family member that only talks to you when something goes wrong, but then when times are good you never hear from them? We do that to God without even thinking about it. However, the richness of walking closely with God is the joy that we are able to have by sharing the good times with Him. Jesus came to give us a life full of joy and abundance (John 10:10, 16:24).
We don’t like to be on the giving end of a one-sided relationship, and neither does He. I’m thankful that He is more patient and more forgiving that we are when it happens. I have written other posts that revolve around intentional living with our spouses and children, and truly we should be striving to live intentionally with God as well. The best and deepest parts of a relationship are when we actively take part in them. Passive loving is always one-sided and usually rooted in self-centeredness. Active and intentional loving brings the relationship into balance and enables both sides to find joy and fulfillment.
God doesn’t need us to find His fulfillment. He has that in Himself, but He still earnestly desires to have a deep relationship with each one of His children. As you go through life, I hope you’ll take time to live intentionally not just with your family and friends, but with God.