A while back I had a friend whose grown son had wandered from him. It tore my friend up inside, trying to figure out the best way to still be father to a son who had essentially turned his back to him. My friend, B. is a great man. I love him an awful lot.
The place most of us might go if we’re bible reading folks is the story of the prodigal son so I went there as well. As I read it, though there was a bit in it that I struck me; a part I know I’ve read before but it never really made sense to me until that moment:
“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.” Lk 15 v20
While he was a long way off….this hit me so hard at that moment. It still does today for whatever reason as I ponder it again. I was struck that the father was, in effect, waiting for the son…perhaps, looking for him each day, wondering if this was the day he’d return. I was struck by the hope that represented. I love that.
I was thinking today of the friends and family I have in my life who have wandered from me because of disagreement and difficulty. In moments when it seems there is nothing more I can do in a relationship I am reminded today that waiting by the door, watching…this is still something. I thought today about what it might look like for me to have the posture of the father; waiting, hopeful, compassionate, ready to forgive. Perhaps in this way I will see them return while they are still a long way off and I can run to them with real joy and true celebration.