Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. – James 4:8
by Louie Giglio
A man had two sons, and the younger one came to him and demanded his half of the family money. So the dad agreed, called his attorney and his financial planner, and split up the estate—half to the older son and half to the younger son.
Guess what the younger son did with his share? He gathered everything he had, set off for a distant country, and “squandered his wealth in wild living” (Luke 15:13 NIV).
Reading between the lines, we can see that he felt just like we do when we get ourselves into that kind of situation. Whatever happened, when it was all over and the party ended, we were left feeling empty and fearful.
That’s what happened to the younger son. At the end of the day, he didn’t even have a single friend. He’d had a lot of friends before because he’d bought every round. But when the money runs out, it’s amazing how fast the friends run out too. The son had not expected to find himself at this place in his journey—party over, money gone, no friends. “He had spent everything” (Luke 15:14). Catch that word? Everything!
When a severe famine came, he hired himself out to a farmer in that far country where he had gone, and he was sent to feed the pigs. The young man was so desperate that he even ate some of the pigs’ food just to fill his empty stomach.
He had never planned on this. When he had started his spending spree, he didn’t stop to consider that maybe he should put aside a little in case famine came. He didn’t know famine was coming. We never know. But we can be assured that unexpected things are ahead whenever we walk away from God.
If this son had really been keeping in touch with his need, if he knew how much he was loved, he would have never left home. If he’d understood that he was truly home when he was home, he would not have left to look somewhere else for a place to belong.
It didn’t take long for disaster to come into view, and for the wayward son to finally know he had hit rock bottom. When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.’ And he arose and came to his father” (Luke 15:17–20).
I love that last line: “He arose and came to his father.” Now that’s a comeback!
For some of us, our comeback story is like the younger son’s. He made the move away from his father. He took the initiative to defy God. His actions were deliberate.
When we find ourselves in a similar place, our first step toward a comeback is to stand up in the mess and turn our hearts toward home.
For him and for us, it’s not like God doesn’t know where we are. This father lived in a country where news traveled fast and folks knew what was happening in the neighborhood. Rumor had come back to the father that the younger son’s money was gone and the party was over. The father could have gone at any time to fetch him, but he knew that his son had to come to the end on his own. When the son hit bottom, he thought he would never be a son again. He approached his father with the thought that maybe he could live as a hired servant.
That’s where the story takes a grace-laden turn.
While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him (v. 20). When the son started to come near, his father didn’t miss it. It’s clear from the story the father was eagerly waiting and just needed to see the top of his son’s head over the horizon. He pulled his robe up, and this noble father started sprinting down the road, past the servants, past the gate, into the street toward his son.
The son must have thought the worst.
… He’s so angry he doesn’t want to wait for me to get to the house to crush me; he wants to crush me right in full view of the street.
But that’s not how it went down. Before the son could even start his much-rehearsed speech, the father cried out, “This is my son,” and threw his arms around him.
The son was dumbfounded.
The servants followed, and the father said, “What are you looking at? Get a robe! Put it on my son. Get a ring! Put it on his finger. Get shoes for his feet! … My son was dead and he is alive again. He was lost and he is found, and we are going to celebrate!”
If we “draw near to God … he will draw near to [us]” (James 4:8). And God doesn’t hold back either. God doesn’t hide around a corner or give a lecture or treat us like some kind of second-class worker. He just waits to see us on the horizon. When he sees us coming toward him, he runs down the road with his arms open wide.
Yep, the father (the picture of God in this story) threw a party and put on a dance for his son. What dance were they doing, you ask?
They were doing the comeback!