When God Ran by Randy Rowley 10/9/17 ©


On the second weekend in March, eight friends, my middle daughter, Robin, and I went on an FCS hog hunt on the Pierce Ranch near El Campo.  On the first afternoon, the guide put Robin and me in a stand made for two.  The stand was about 100 yards from a feeder.  We didn’t see any hogs on that first hunt, but God instead treated us to a display that neither of us would soon forget.

About two hours after we arrived we saw movement to our left. The unidentified critter was moving cautiously and slowly, so I knew that it wasn’t a hog.  It seemed to take forever to get out in the open, but it probably was only around 30 seconds.  Finally, it showed itself – a mature gobbler with at least a ten-inch long beard.  This lord of his domain was ultra-cautious.  He would look right, straight, and left before taking a step.  But finally, after a couple of minutes, he started to act more relaxed.

Strangely, he began to strut.  There were no other turkeys around that we could see, so I was initially puzzled by his display.  But then I saw her.  A mature hen had come out to our right, around 100 yards from him.  I thought to myself, “He’s probably going to go over to her.”  But that’s not what happened.

When she saw him, she immediately ran straight to him.  I thought she’d try to shoo him away, but that wasn’t her intention.  When she got next to him, she turned away and then they started to mate.  It was focused and intense.  When it was finally over, they went their separate ways, while Robin learned a lot more about the turkeys and the bees than I’d intended her to at her age.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but how that hen ran to that gobbler is similar to how God pursues us.  In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus told the parable of the lost, or prodigal, son – the restoration of a son into fellowship with his father.  The younger of two sons asks his father for his estate share, which would have been one-third.  The father did not rebuke his son but instead grants his request. The son then travels to a distant country, where he parties with some new friends and quickly loses everything.

A natural disaster (a famine) follows his financial disaster.  His newfound friends abandon him once his money runs out, so he has no one to turn to. Desperate and utterly unprepared for the famine, he responds by selling his services to a Gentile, an act that was beneath most Jews.  His job was feeding pigs.  Not only was it a dirty job; it was a detestable job for a Jew, as pigs were unclean according to the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Jews who handled unclean animals were to purify themselves to get rid of their uncleanliness.  To make things worse, his employer pays him so little that he longed to eat what he was feeding the pigs.

Reflecting on his situation, the lost son remembers that his father’s servants were much better off than him.  He sees his father in a new light and develops a plan of action.  He decides to return to his father.  He realizes he has no right to claim an additional inheritance and has nothing to offer except a life of being a servant.

The father, who’s been watching for his son, spots him when he’s at a distance.  And even though it wasn’t the custom of Jewish men to run, the father runs to his boy.  When the father reaches his son, he throws his arms around him and greets him with a kiss of love.  His son’s return has filled him with so much joy that he doesn’t allow him to finish his confession.  Neither does he lecture or even question him.  Instead, he unconditionally forgives him and restores him into fellowship with him.

The father orders his servants to bring the best robe, undoubtedly the father’s, and put it on his son.  It’s a sign of honor, and proclaims that he has accepted his son back into the family.  The father also orders his servants to place a ring, undoubtedly one of the father’s, on his son’s finger.  It’s a sign of authority and broadcasts that he’s his father’s son.  Additionally, the father orders his servants to place sandals on his son’s feet.  It’s a sign of not being a servant, as servants didn’t wear shoes.  The father then orders a celebration.

The father’s actions of running to his son, greeting him with a kiss, clothing him, and ordering a celebration is a picture of how our Heavenly Father regards sinners who repent.  The forgiving father demonstrates the character of God in his love and regard for the lost.  God so deeply loves the sinner that he sent his one and only son to die and take the punishment for our sins in our place.  He patiently waits for our repentance so he can pour his great grace on us.  2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

The lost son had steeled himself to return home as a servant, but the father instead restores his son into the full privilege of being his father’s son.  He is transformed from a destitute state to total restoration.  Instead of condemnation, the father rejoices that the son he feared to be dead is still alive.  He who once was lost has been found.

Just as that father was gracious to his son, God’s grace acts in the same way for a repentant sinner.  Psalm 103:8-13 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”

So, if you find yourself in the position of the lost son – unable to save yourself, just as that hen sprinted to be with that gobbler and just as that father ran to greet his son, God is anxious to run to those who are willing to repent and trust in him.

The gobbler

Categories : Devotionals

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But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You.


 January 2022