God is a prodigal father.
A year ago on Father’s Day, we walked into Prodigal Church in Lakewood for the first time. They caught Murray’s attention by promising a free cigar to the first ten fathers. He doesn’t smoke cigars, but he thought it was a catchy draw.
We have loved the church. They stress God’s overwhelming love for hurting people, often referring to the story of “The Prodigal Son” in Luke 15.
But Murray and I both decided to look up prodigal the second time we heard them refer to God as “The Prodigal Father.”
We weren’t sure about that. Our idea of prodigal was of the younger son, wasting his father’s money with sinful living, then finding his way back home.
I looked up prodigal on dictionary.com. This is what I found.
wastefully or recklessly extravagant:
giving or yielding profusely; lavish (usually followed by of or with):
Prodigal of smiles; prodigal with money.
lavishly abundant; profuse:
nature's prodigal resources.
Number one seemed to relate to what I expected. The younger son was wasteful, reckless.
But I had to admit, the other listings pointed to the love God shows us: giving or yielding profusely; lavishly abundant.
The father in Luke 15, a picture of God, showed lavish and profuse love to both his lost sons.
He was watching for his younger son, the one who had taken his money and gone away to waste it. He was watching for him and ran to embrace him when he finally came home.
To think of God loving me this way almost brings tears to my crusty old heart.
This son had treated his father as though he wished he was dead. That is a good picture of how hatefully I’ve treated God with the sin in my life.
But Luke says the father had compassion on his son. I looked up compassion on dictionary.com.
a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
That certainly explains how God has treated us. Because of his sorrow for our suffering, he yielded himself lavishly and abundantly to alleviate our pain.
Yes, God is a prodigal father.
Luke 15:20: 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.
Romans 5: 8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us