Focus 40 Day 15 – Extreme Living: Reaching by Running with Forgiveness
Prayer Focus: Pray for Holy Spirit power to enable your reach – Acts 1:8
Extreme Living—Reaching by Running with Forgiveness
“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.”
—Luke 15:20b (NIV)
WHILE SERVING IN RUSSIA, we made several trips to St. Petersburg and always made a point to spend some time in the Hermitage Museum. One of my favorite works of art hangs there, “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” This massive work of Rembrandt is 8.5 feet tall and 6.5 feet wide and invites the viewer to step into the actual story. In Rembrandt’s style, the dark colors combine to create a powerful, still, quiet moment when the son falls to his knees and is gently embraced by his father. It was only after several visits to the Middle East that I realized Rembrandt had painted a very European/Dutch interpretation of the parable. The Middle Eastern story would have been busy, loud and emotional. The father would be running to meet his rebellious and disgraced son and would then embrace his filthy, threadbare, broken boy by drawing him up into his arms, all the while repetitively kissing him! The story invokes a holy moment that wets the eyes of even a casual observer, because there’s something moving about a relationship being restored.
I commonly share this story with those who have never heard the good news of Jesus. When Jesus wanted to convey the love of the Father, he told this story, and two thousand years later it still carries the same powerful message. No matter how far you are from God, when he sees you coming home, he comes running.
Father, today may we represent your message of powerful love and extravagant grace (in still, quiet or busy, noisy ways) in the places we find ourselves. Amen.
Rev. Kelly Philips,
Church of God Missionary to Germany