Friday, March 18, 2011

The Only Time God Ever Got In a Hurry

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."- Luke 11:20

How many of you remember your teens and twenties? How many of you would like to forget much of your teens or your twenties? I have had some very interesting experiences in both decades that I lived (miraculously) through, but would rather forget. When we're young, we think we have the world figured out. There's an old saying that goes something to the effect of, "In your entire life, you'll never be as smart as you were in your teenage years.".. or something like that. I'm sure I knew the quote better as a teen.

Before we've lived life, we believe we've got life figured out.

Before we truly know anything, we believe we know everything.

Before we are taught patience, we're extremely impatient.

God's Amazing Patience

This seems to certainly be the case of the young man whose story Jesus tells in Luke 15:11-32, a young man better known to many as 'The Prodigal Son'. We're all familiar with the story, but I want to share something interesting found in this story.

Throughout the Bible we see that God is a very patient character. When we consider the actions He took, they overwhelmingly show that He never gets into a hurry. Consider when God sent Joshua to march around the walls of Jericho in Joshua chapter 6. He could have collapsed the walls immediately upon Joshua setting his eyes on them, but He didn't. He had the army march around the walls for 6 days. This was an act of patience. Or how about God telling Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-19? God told Naaman through the prophet to go dip into the water seven times. He could have healed him on the first plunge, yet He required Naaman to dip seven times. This again, was an act of patience. Consider how long God waited to send Jesus to Earth? Thousands of years. Again, another example of Gods great patience.

God Runs Out to Meet Us

However, lets take a look at the one time in the Bible that says that God ever got in a hurry about anything. Going back to the prodigal son (who is a representative of you and me), notice that the father (representing God) notices his son "while he was still afar off" and ran out to meet him with a hug and kissed him (Luke 15:20). The only time God ever got in a hurry in the entire Bible was when one of His children were returning to Him.

While reading this story, I notice two more things of significance that I'd like to share with you. First, the father was obviously anxious and waiting for his wayward child's return home. Notice in Luke 15:20 it says the father saw him "when he was still a great way off.." The father recognized his son's youth and waited for the day when wisdom and life experience would bring the son back home. The father was found waiting and watching, and because of this, he recognized his son from a great way off.

Second, notice that the father did not require the son to come groveling down at his feet before he accepted him back home. The father saw him from afar off, and ran to meet him where his son was on the road leading back home. The decision was already made by the son to return home, and the father met him where he was and welcomed him home there. This is symbolic of Gods acceptance of us wherever we are in life. Once we make the decision to obey His will, He doesn't require us to be perfect before He accepts us as His children. He accepts us where we are, in the condition we are in, and walks us step by step into His perfection. God accepts sinners and turns them into saints.

We've all heard the saying, "patience is a virtue". Well, when it comes to accepting His children back, I'm glad it's one that God doesn't exercise for our sake!

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