Bill Bright

"While he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming.  Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”  Luke 5:20

No matter how long I live, I will always be deeply moved by that verse.  It tells me all I need to know about the loving heart of my Lord. 


Is your image of God consistent with the portrait in Luke 15 (the story of the prodigal son)?  Jesus wants us to see that God is like this father who is wildly joyful, overflowing with love and compassion, embracing and kissing a son who surely smells of filthy hogs, a dusty journey, and a sordid life.  Neither rags, the smell, nor the wrongs of the past mean anything at all to this father—only the heart that turned toward home.


Consider this:  If you and I could indelibly etch such a picture of God into our hearts and minds, how might it affect our love for Him?  How much easier would it be to maintain our first love?


I think too many of us have the opposite idea of God.  We imagine Him glowering at us behind the fortress walls of heaven, scowling as we pound o the door.  We know we’ve sinned, and we’re afraid of the inevitable confrontation with His anger and derision.  We imagine Him sitting within those walls smoldering with wrath, measuring out eternity in punishments to answer our rebellion.  With that tragically inaccurate understanding, it is no wonder many people are afraid to turn or return to Him.


Yes, God does hate the cheap sins and false gods for which we desert Him.  He does have wrath, and He does judge sin.  But He looks upon His stray children with love and compassion.  He waits with His eyes on the horizon, day after day.  Then—before we can even return to Him—He meets us halfway, heaping blessings upon our head, declaring a celebration in heaven.  Remember the father in Luke 15.  He killed the fatted calf, the best he had, the one he was saving for the ultimate celebration.


That is how God feels the moment you take one sorrowful, halting step in His direction.  Overwhelming joy.


Whatever is keeping you from the Father’s embrace—be it a long road full of sin and rebellion, or a few “small” sins you want to hold on to—confess them, turn from them, and return to your first Love.  


By Bill Bright, First Love

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