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The Prodigal Son’s Father

Written By Johanna Loh, originally for Walk The Same

The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-31) is a familiar one. Its three main characters could be the stars of a TV series: The rich patriarch, his elder son, and his youngest—the wild child.

We know how it goes: The wild child takes off with his plentiful inheritance to enjoy life. He leaves big brother behind to run the family business with dad. After wasting all his money, the wild child is left penniless and starving. He decides to make his way home, and instead of receiving reproach, he receives a warm welcome from dad. But big brother is left fuming, because his useless younger sibling doesn’t get the thrashing he deserves.

As the eldest child, I must admit I had trouble connecting with the story for a long time. My sympathies lay with the elder son, who had worked so hard yet never seem to have received anything from his father. There was no commendation, no fun parties held in his honor. The younger child who wasted his inheritance, on the other hand, was treated like a celebrity.

Then, one day, it hit me that the story was in fact, all about the father. And two lessons, one about grace and the other about identity, stood out like they never had before. First, grace is a gift given without restraint. Second, we can only understand our true identity upon knowing our heavenly Father.

The father in the story shows immense grace to his two sons. There was no doubt that he cared for them. It must have caused him great grief to let his younger son go, not knowing if he would ever see his child again. He didn’t even protest, considering that requesting for one’s inheritance at the time was as good as wishing one’s father dead. Yet, the Bible tells of the father running to his son and being filled with compassion for him when he returns.

The father had never given up on his younger son, but had waited every day hoping for his return. He had every right to be angry, yet his reaction was the complete opposite: He extended lavish grace instead.

Grace was given to the older son too. Although it seemed that he was being unappreciated by his father, his father was clear in stating that everything he had belonged to his son.

Aren’t we sometimes like the elder son? Maybe we already have everything, but we don’t know how much we have.We are so focused on slaving away for our Father, that we miss out on having a relationship with Him. We forget how to receive and give grace, and end up becoming bitter and legalistic. Insecurity and a skewed sense of self-worth sets in because we think we have to achieve more to be more, and we forget how much we are loved by our Heavenly Father. We need to constantly remember the value God places on us as his treasured children.

As for the prodigal son, we see how his father restored his position and privileges when he returned. This shows us how our identities are established in God our Father. Once He has called us His children, nothing can separate us from Him. Even when we make bad choices and mess up our lives, God is there to work through our mess with us. All we need to do is ask. It is never too difficult or too late. Our hearts just need to be open to Him. And just like the father in the story, our Heavenly Father comes running to meet us with outstretched arms. Joy is written in His smile when we humble ourselves and choose to rely on Him completely.

It could take us a lifetime or more to fully understand just how much God loves us and treasures us as His sons and daughters. Paul says in Ephesians 3:18-19, “may [you] have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” May we all truly know the extent of grace we have received through God’s love, and allow that to define who we are.

This version has been edited by YMI.

Our Mindful Maker

By Pastor Brad, Walk The Same

Read: Psalm 8:3-4
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

When you think about God, what comes to mind? What’s the first idea, characteristic, or association that you think of? What’s the first thing that pops into your head?

For most people, God is just a concept. For the Christian, however, God is a real person. And the best thing about this person is that He is “mindful of us”—that is, He knows each one of us. While God is the infinite and all-powerful creator and ruler of all the planets, galaxies, and solar systems, the Bible tells us that He’s also our loving Father.

Indeed, the most amazing thing about God is that while He sustains the whole universe in the palm of His hand, He’s also aware of everything that happens to you on it as well. He’s concerned for you and all the troubles and trials that you go through in life. All the things that upset you bring grief to Him too. He shares in your sufferings and understands because He himself has walked the path of suffering.

The psalmist encapsulates this wonder perfectly:

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)

When you think about it, God should have nothing to do with us. We, His prized creations (Psalm 8:5-8), have rejected Him and rebelled against Him. God would have been just and righteous in casting us aside, giving us our due punishment, and starting over. Yet He did not.

Instead, God’s love caused Him not only to sustain His creation, but also to become a part of it. He became man and bore our sins on the cross so that we could be in a personal relationship with Him.

Pride and conceit fall away instantly when we meditate on our mindful Maker—on the Creator God whose infiniteness transcends all human comprehension, and whose tender mercy and patience extends to us as well.

Whenever you’re discouraged or depressed, or tempted to give in to despair, always remember that you have a God who’s mindful of you and is deeply concerned for you. There’s no telling how far He will go to show you His grace and assure you of His love. Always be mindful of your mindful Maker.

Fear has No Power over the Word

By Jude Dias, Walk The Same

Read: Isaiah 41:10
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The most common thing that holds people back from moving forward and achieving their dreams is fear. Ask anyone who is hesitant about something, and you’ll find that fear has something to do with it in some way or another. We are no strangers to fear.

We are all created by God to be progressive beings. But life can come to a full stop when we allow fear to take over. The reality is, fear will always come our way to try to stop us in our tracks. Yet we have all been given a destiny, a purpose, and a mission from God which we are called to live out. At the same time, God has provided us with His eternal word and the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us when fear tries to get in our way. It is up to us to make the choice which side we are going to be on: fear or faith.

Do you struggle with fear? Turn to God: He’s always there and will be there for us forever. Instead of giving in to fear, let us choose to place our faith in Jesus.

Not about Me

By Elle, Walk The Same

Read: Romans 12:10
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. “

Over the years, I’ve come to learn that I am the happiest when I see someone whom I love and care about being happy and joyful. The feeling that I get inside cannot be put into words.  That’s not saying that I don’t love it when people do things for me; that makes me happy too. But if you were to ask me to compare the two, I’d say I am even happier when people around me are happy. The joy is infectious and amazing.

When I put the well-being and joy of another person ahead of my own, it makes me realize that much of life isn’t always about me and that it encompasses everyone. We live in a culture where we are told to “pamper ourselves” and to ensure that we are happy and comfortable all the time. In the Bible, however, we see Christ taking on the role of a servant and washing the feet of His disciples. Yes, He is God—yet He chose to put others ahead of His comfort.

We should avoid looking to our own interests and needs only, and learn to love and care for others. This is the way of Christ and this is how we are told to live. It’s not always about me.