“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.” Exodus 13:21 – 22 (NIV)
The Blue Ridge Mountains was our weekend destination. Bringing along my daughter and her two friends, my mind had all types of wonderful memories already created before we went snow tubing. That was before the reality of the disappointments.
Disappointment #1 – When we arrived at my son’s apartment, he had decided not to go snow tubing with us.
Disappointment #2 – The bitter wind made me want to crawl back in my car!
Disappointment #3 – The girls were not having as much fun as I had expected.
Disappointment #4 – When we arrived at the cabin, it wasn’t clean!
By this point, I was over it! Later on, when the girls asked for an alternative to my homemade lasagna for supper, it was all I could do to not loose it! I didn’t yell, but you know you don’t have to yell at someone to yell at someone! All day long small issues created one big issue in my heart. I had the expectation that this mountain excursion was going to recharge, rejuvenate, renew me and that just didn’t happen!
When I have hit bumps in the journey of my expectations in relationships, I have waited. Waited for the phone call, text or email saying “I’m sorry.” before I moved on.
The example of the father in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 has shown me a different way.
The son showed an audacious amount of disrespect, requesting his inheritance while his father was still living. As a parent, you could interpret this rudeness on endless levels. Unlike me, I am sure he was more than inconvenienced or let down as I was on the snowy day in the mountains.
To matters worse, the results from that request were as bad as the request itself. All the son’s money was lost. Now he was coming home.
It is the father’s next step that humbles me. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him…” While he was still a long way off…
The father had no idea why the son was returning. He could have been coming, asking for more money; coming to see how much more his father would part with this time. No matter the motive or the attitude, the father’s love was already in motion as soon as he saw his son. Unconditional love he extended. Not holding back to see what the son had to say, regardless of why the son had come, the father gave.
I wonder, if like me, the father was ever tempted to keep score. Father: 100. Son: -100. Not only was the score not even, the son had a huge deficit. Too often our relationships feel like our after-Christmas credit cards; maxed out. When trouble brewed, our debts grew.
Like the father, God, our Abba Father, continually extends His love to us His children. He settled the score when Jesus died on the cross to take away our sin. Because He freely and unconditionally pours love on me, I can freely give to others. I, too, can give up keeping score.
With my family, my friends, even with the rude woman in customer service.
I can forgive.
I can love.
I can embrace.
Because I am forgiven, loved and embraced I can forgive, love and embrace.
The love the father gave the son was demonstrated love. He ran, he kissed, he gave. Love that is demonstrated is love that is felt. John 15:13, “ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” For me, love is demonstrated when I lay down my expectations of others and stop keeping score.
Thank you, Father for demonstrating a different way. Your love, through us, makes it possible to love others at all times because Your love toward us flows all the time.
To give love, we need to understand God’s love. His Revolutionary Love: Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You can help a young woman in your life grasp just how crazy Jesus is about her. Join us at The Whatever Girls as we begin this new online Bible study together!
Write a note to that person in your life you have had a hard time not keeping score with. Assure them of your love for them!