Welcome Mat

by John Fischer

When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, “At home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my father….” (Luke 15:17-18)

Most of us can identify in some way with the story of the Prodigal Son. He had spent all his father’s money on wild living and “came to his senses” when he ended up working on a pig farm just to survive and noticed that what the pigs were eating suddenly looked good to him. That’s when he decided to go back to his father, admit his bad decisions and offer to work as a hired hand on his father’s estate. But something else happened when he arrived.

Going home was a good practical move for his situation. He was willing to settle on being a hired hand. The surprise was that he wasn’t given even a chance to apply for the job. He was welcomed as a son. Before he could get a word in edgewise he was smothered in his father’s love and a welcome-home party began.

What can you do in the face of this? Fall on your knees and worship. God the Father’s great big hands are open to us and we are embraced without judgment. This is like no love we have ever known before or will ever know.

We crawled back home ready for the worst – ready to eat crow. We were prepared for the taunts from the others in the family – even from the servants. We weighed the cost and decided the embarrassment was worth it. We calculated all that. We left bragging and return in humiliation. We left triumphant and return a failure. And yet there is no “I told you so” speech. There is just joy and acceptance.

Worship? It’s all we can do to hold ourselves together. We know what we deserve, and this isn’t it. This is a party! God has done it all for us. One day we were sucking up to pigs, the next we are escorted into our father’s house and in the process, we discover the wonderfully good news that we’ve always had a home here. We never lost our place. This is where we belong.

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