Posted by: mikenicholsblog | September 3, 2012

the Father in focus

We all know a prodigal. Somewhere in every family tree, a prodigal can be traced. Even those who have very little knowledge of Scripture have heard the parable of the prodigal son. As I have been meditating on the meaning of this parable over the last couple of days, it became evident to me that I have always focused too much on the son who wanted his share of his father’s estate. The prodigal (wasteful) son took his inheritance, moved to a distant land and wasted his money on wild living. When I think of this story, it is easy for me (and I am sure you also) to focus on someone who has just made a mess of life. And the natural conclusion to my thinking is that they will never change. Focusing too much on the son caused me to negate the graciousness of the father, and miss the point of the parable.

In his masterful work, Knowledge of the Holy,  A.W. Tozer starts the book with bold words. What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. And make no mistake about it, we all have thoughts about God. When our minds drift heavenward, do we think about His sovereignty, power, love and grace….or do we spend our mental moments thinking about disappointments, unanswered prayer and a myriad of other self validating thoughts? I believe we have all had some moments with grandiose visions of the Father, and also times of “does He really care about me?” When we refuse to live with a firm conviction of His power and care for us, we are dethroning God in our minds. And subsequently, when we see a story like the parable of the prodigal son, we miss the great emphasis on the Father.

I have read over the last couple of days that this parable could be called the parable of The Loving Father or the parable of The Forgiving Father. Those are obvious words when we consider the text and how the father responded to his wayward son. “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.” It seems from the context of this parable that the father wasn’t just willing to take his son back, but he was looking for him. He takes off running and embraces his son. You would be interested to know that in the Middle East, older men did not run. But it was his son, and protocol didn’t matter.

There is no question that the father in this parable represents God who absolutely rejoices when a sinner repents. “This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!” There is nothing…no nothing greater than when a repentant sinner turns to the only One who can redeem him. But when we just focus on the prodigal, we easily overlook the power and grace of the Father. Good works, trying harder and turning over a new leaf will never change a heart. Only the Father through His Son can bring redemption, peace and eternal life. Our parable told of a waiting father, the Father waits with open arms to redeem anyone who comes to Him.

Take a moment to think of the prodigals in your family. Do your thoughts go to, “they will never change?” Maybe it’s time to reflect on your Father; who hung the world in space, gave His Son for our redemption and has the power to change lives today. Could it be that speaking more with the Father and less trying to change your prodigal is in order? If you really believe that the Father can change lives then keep your mind and heart focused on Him.

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