The prodigal returns

He is the God of hope!

He is the Job 11:18 God who tells us, You will live secure and full of hope; God will protect you and give you rest.

He is the Isaiah 41 God who tells us not to be afraid.  “Do not be afraid—I am with you!
I am your God—let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you.

The Romans 12 God, who calls us to hope with patience.  “Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.”

The Luke 1 God who know he can do anything if He chooses “For there is nothing that God cannot do.”

The Lamentations 3 God who is all we have “The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.”

In the last 17 years, I have had one very special day with my eldest son, for reasons I will not go into I have not seen or spoken to him in that time.  I miss him much.  I have learned how to grieve the loss of someone who is still alive.  To experience the pain of ongoing separation and to retain hope that one day I will see him and be reunited with Him again.

I constantly read the story of the Prodigal son in Luke.  The story tells us that God wants his kids back and is waiting for them to return to Him.  With the Prodigal Father, I have retained hope by constantly declaring “we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his propertybetween them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

The story is one I regularly turn to in my paintings. Here is one painted for the worship room in the Beit Immanuel Hotel Jerusalem.

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And I learn to treasure the moments I have with my other son even more, here is a present he sent me. I remember with gratitude, everything that my dad did to make me a success.  The sacrifices to buy me text books for university, or musical instruments.  His wisdom in helping me to figure out a life path and make good decisions.  His encouraging me to develop a strong moral compass and a sense of justice.  I value the benefits a good mother can bring to a child in ways that no other person can replicate.  Dads too bring something into the lives of their sons which no matter how people try, and no matter how well meaning they are, cannot be replaced by the loss of a father.

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