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A Father Who Runs

Jolene Combs

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A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land,

and there he wasted all his money in wild living.

- Luke 15:13

Imagine the scene with me. The father with his hand over his eyes, shielding against the bright, noonday sun. Scanning. In search of someone he holds out hope for. He holds out hope, knowing that he will eventually come home. Everyone else has given up hope of ever laying eyes on the wayward son, but still, day after day, the father stands there. Unwavering, unfailing, searching.

This parable that Jesus taught can be found in Luke 15:11-32. This week, being teachers’ week, we’re focusing on Christ being the ultimate teacher. He used several strategies in His teaching, but parables and stories were His go-to. This parable is one of my favorites. To me, it’s the ultimate love of a Father that isn’t giving up on His child.

The son demanded that his father give him his inheritance well before his father was anywhere near death (Luke 15:12). This same son ran off into the sunset without a glance back. If he had looked back though, he would have seen his father standing there. Not shaking his fist in anger or cursing the fleeing son. He would have seen his father looking longingly after him as he ran off with dreams of the seemingly glorious future that lay ahead. If he had turned around just once, he would have seen that his father wasn’t mad at him, but deeply saddened by his departure.

The son represented here is you and me. I shudder to think back on the time I fled away from God thinking that my dreams and ideas of living were going to make me happy. I can put myself in the shoes of that fleeing son and remember almost the exact moment I started that long walk away from Christ.

I wish I had turned around just once. Because if I had, I would have seen my Savior with arms outstretched.

I would have seen Him, with tears running down His face, calling my name. Petitioning me to see that His ways, His thoughts, His ideas for me are so much better than any I could come up with (Isaiah 55:8-9) But I didn’t. I kept walking.

Aren’t we thankful that our story and the parable in Luke 15 doesn’t end there?!

“When he finally came to his senses…” (Luke 15:17)

When was the moment you came to your senses? I could take you back to the exact moment I “woke up” and realized that what I had been chasing wasn’t going to make me happy anymore. Like the son in the parable I looked around me and realized that I had it so much better when I was at home with my Father.

“At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!” (Luke 15:17) He then begins the long journey back, rehearsing the speech he has to give to convince his father to take him back. We’ve all gone over the same speech in our own minds. Yours may go something like this.

“I’ve messed up big this time, God. Are you sure you still want me?”

“I don’t really think that You’ll take me back again, will You? But just in case, I’m asking again.”

Like an unexpected twist in a novel, the son doesn’t even get a single word of the speech out before he’s met with the image of his father running. Maybe he’d missed it before, but he can’t recall ever seeing his father run anywhere, much less towards anyone. And yet, here he is, running as fast as he can towards his son. The same son that ran the opposite direction so long ago. The same son that now smells like pigs and other unmentionable stenches.

Do you get the picture? Is it clearly painted in your mind? I hope that you see yourself there. I hope you realize that the Father is running towards you. His arms are outstretched in the most sincere love you can ever imagine. He’s trying to teach you that there’s never too great a distance that His love won’t reach. He’s showing you that there’s never too far a journey that He won't bring you back from. Will you take His lesson to heart today?


1. What “speeches” have you been rehearsing in your mind to bring to Christ?

2. What truths can you speak into those “speeches” or lies to remind yourself of the love your Father is trying to teach you?


God, the speeches I’ve been rehearsing and the lies I’ve been believing overwhelm me much of the time. I see You running toward me. I see Your loving arms outstretched. I accept this gift of love and desire to have it teach me the amazing plans You have in store for me, Amen.



#love #pursuit #teaching #jolenecombs


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