It’s 3:35 am. I get up feeling a tightness in my gut. Unfortunately, an all too familiar feeling of anxiety begins to envelope me like a fog. I try to shake it off but to no avail. I try to go back to sleep… yet I know that is not going to happen. Eyes wide open now, staring into the darkness, I whisper, “Dad, I need a breakthrough.” I begin to recall songs of praise and worship hoping for that breakthrough. My heart and mind hear those familiar verses from songs declaring the love of God, His amazing grace, the heart of the Father. Yet, I think, I feel, those words are not meant for me.
Why? The problem isn’t God. My God and Father is everything every song declares about Him, and more. He’s beyond good and faithful and merciful and understanding and patient. And His grace… amazing! But I feel so unworthy. For you see, I have turned my back on Him. I so often walked away. I take His love and grace for granted and go off to do I what I want.
I realize I’m that son.
My mind goes to that painting.
I am that son. I took it all, turned my back and walked away. And here I am, in a fog of anxiety. I want to go back. But how can I? I blew it. I walked away. I took it all and spent it all, all that was not mine. It was all grace—undeserved, unearned, just given. I took it all for granted. I just took it… and I wasted it all.
How can I return? Yet… I’m drawn back. Drawn back by the love of My Father. I begin to take steps back, rehearsing what I want to say, what I’m going to say to a Person, I have no right to call Dad. I try and try but there’s really no words that can earn my way back. That son’s words come to mind, “Father, I have sinned again heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” I take more steps back.
And then, there you are. I see you, and my heart pounds as feelings flood my soul. Hope, yet the dread, regret, humility, shame… and then, surprisingly, only hope. Hope that somehow, I will be accepted back. I know I shouldn’t be. I shouldn’t even be here where I am. But the love of the father draws me back.
But, but, I look at all I have done I remember how I turned my back, left, and went on my own, only caring about me. And now I want back? I know all about God’s goodness, I experienced it all, but… And now, I am here and there’s Dad, it’s hard even saying or thinking that word, “Dad.” I threw that away. But now, here I am, wanting to return. I can’t as a son, I gave that up. I threw that away.
He’s there. Dad is there. He has been looking for me, waiting for me, yearning for me. He has run to me, embraced and kissed me. Unbelievable. I start speaking the words I rehearsed, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son, mak…” but no more words are necessary, as he calls out to prepare a party. No more words needed. He doesn’t need to hear more. To him, having his son back is all that matters.
I stand there stunned. Then, because of the great love of my Father, I receive His love once again. Dad, receive your son… forgive me… restore me… I don’t deserve all this… But He has. He receive me and the party has begun. “This son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”
That’s grace. That’s the love of my Father, my Dad. I take a deep breath and humbly receive. I hear my soul saying, “That’s grace, Mark. That’s the grace of your God. That’s the love of your Father.” I slowly nod, feeling peace break through the fog. Now the words of those songs can once again be my words. By His grace. Only by His grace.
Thank you, Dad!