We were visiting Amy’s family in Texas. On Sunday morning, we went to church, and God taught me something during the worship service.
As much as it pains me as a minister to say this, some of God’s best lessons don’t come from the sermon.
A father took his son to the bathroom. I didn’t really notice when they left, but I sure noticed when they came back.
The boy broke away from his father the moment they walked back in the sanctuary door. He ran ahead, looking for their seats. He stopped in the middle of the aisle, frozen, as he realized he couldn’t find them. He turned around and backtracked, scanning the congregation for where he belonged. Again, he couldn’t find his place. He was lost.
The poor little boy didn’t know where he was, and he didn’t know where he was supposed to be, either. He knew one very important thing, though. He knew what to do about it. The boy ran back toward the door, the place where he’d broken from his father.
His father was still standing there, waiting for him. He smiled, took his son by the hand, and led him to their seats.
How many times has this same thing happened to us? We break away from our heavenly father, running ahead of him, wanting to do something or find something on our own. We don’t get very far, however, before we realize that not only do we not know where we are, we don’t know where we’re supposed to be going, either.
It’s a scary feeling, isn’t it? To feel lost and alone, aimless and afraid.Maybe you feel that way right now. You’ve broken away from God and run ahead of him, only to find yourself now in unfamiliar territory. What do you do? What can you do?
You can learn the lesson I learned that day: no matter what you’ve done, no matter where you are, you can always return to your father. Just like the little boy’s father, your heavenly father is still standing right where you left him, patiently waiting for you to come back to him.
And how will God respond when you do? Well, what did the boy’s father do? Did he yell at the boy? Did he refuse to help the boy? Did he reject the boy? No.The father smiled at his child. He took his child by the hand. He led his child where he was supposed to go.
Can you see the tenderness? Can you see the love? This father, completely unknown to me, not only showed the love of God to his son, he also showed it to me. It’s the same kind of love that God wants to show others. It’s the same kind of love God wants to show you.Have you broken away from God? Have you run ahead of him, only to now find yourself lost? Turn around. See your father? He’s right there, right where you left him. He’s waiting for you to come back to him.
And when you do, he’ll receive you. He’ll accept you. He’ll show you just how much he loves you.
Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville.