When I was young, I had a few friends who were siblings, come down the street to my house to play. For the most part, we just did kid stuff, but sometimes we got into a little mischief, as most kids do.
Every evening, when the street lights came on, a sharp whistle could be heard in the distance. It was their fathers way of letting them know it was time to come home. They were never in a big hurry to leave and would often take their time about making their way back. Sometimes it took hearing a second whistle, but they always went.
There was a time or two when they didn’t go home when they should have and their father had to come after them, which is probably why they returned home now without hesitation. But they never made any remarks about getting in trouble if they didn’t go, and they never showed any fear of their father, even if he whistled a second, and sometimes a third time. They just heeded his call. Usually I would hear them say something about being hungry or “lets go eat”. They were anxious to go home. Tired and out of energy from running and playing, and just ready to go rest and eat and be, well, at home. And as I watched them walk back down the street, I could always see their father standing beside the road watching for them. Embracing them or patting them on the back leading them inside.
Protected. Loved. Filled.
As a mother now, I know that relief and joy well. When my child returns.
Thinking back on this reminded me of myself as a child of God. As the prodigal. A lost sheep. How I have many times wandered away. How I have sometimes stayed gone too long and become tired from “playing” in the world and become hungry for home again. For His word, His comfort and the rest and peace of being in His presence. It reminded me of how my Heavenly Father, though he allows me to roam, He never lets me get too far where I cannot hear His call, or stay too long without Him coming after me.
No matter how many times I wander away, He pursues me. His whistle, that still, small voice, always calls me back. And while I may take my time about heeding His call, and sometimes He calls more than once, I know with everything in me that back with Him, is where I want to be.
Protected. Loved. Filled.
And I am going. And He is waiting. Watching from the side of the road. Ready to embrace me. What love the Father has for us! What joy fills my soul in knowing I never have to wonder if I am loved or wanted. Just as we as parents love our children, how much more our Father, our creator loves us. And it humbles me as I know how underserving I am of such goodness.
I am but a wandering, mischievous child, yet loved beyond measure. A dirty, unworthy sinner, yet saved by grace.
Luke 15:20 (KJV). And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.