Saturday, January 27, 2018

Welcome Home

Post by: Mike Orr

Snowbound is a weekend winter camp for middle schoolers. We just got back from Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista where we played, sang, worshipped, learned, and got messy with 500 other middle schoolers and leaders! It was amazing, and our students will never forget the experience. Our speaker for the weekend, Ben, talked about the story of the Lost Son. You might know it as the parable of the Prodigal Son. Before you continue reading this, you should read the story for yourself in Luke 15:11-32.

For many of us, this is a story so familiar that we might zone out while hearing it. At camp we looked at the story from the perspectives of each of the three main characters: the younger son, the older son, and the father. One thing you may not have noticed before about the story is what was going on when the father noticed the younger son returning. We read in verse 20, “But while he [the younger son] 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.”

If the father saw him “while he was still a long way off,” that must mean that the father had been watching for his son. I can picture an older man, watching the road to his home, eyes fixed on the horizon, waiting. Did the father wait and watch every day? What a patient and forgiving father! Jesus told parables to give us images of what God is like. In this parable, the father represents our Heavenly Father.

Jesus is telling us that God is watching and waiting for you to return. And when you do make that turn, you won’t even make it all the way back before you find yourself in the arms of God, welcoming you home. The creator of heaven and earth is ready to run out to meet you. Many of us initially identify with the older son, thinking that we’ve never turned away from God. I think if you’re completely honest, there have at least been times when you haven’t kept in tune with God’s movement in your life. This story offers very good news; God stands ready to run out and meet you as you turn your heart back to the Father.

This is also good news for our friends. Many of us know people who don’t believe there is a God, or they have a very negative impression of God. It’s easy to end up with a picture of God as a vengeful, angry, uncaring being. Jesus paints a picture of a gentle, forgiving Father who longs to embrace each of his children. So, next time you’re feeling far from home, remember all you have to do is turn toward your Heavenly Father. And if you have a friend who has a negative impression of God, Jesus has given you the gift of this story to share. God is yearning to say, “Welcome home!”

Mike is the Director of Student Ministries at BUMC. He’s done ministry with students in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, California, and now Colorado. Mike recently finished his MDiv degree at Fuller Theological Seminary, and his passion is to lead kids of all ages toward adoption into the family of God. If he’s not hanging out with Middle School or High School students, you’ll probably find him on a bicycle or on skis. He makes killer chocolate chip cookies. Reach him at

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