Disclaimer: This post is not a commentary or study of a particular section of scripture.
I am a very visual person. I picture everything that I hear or read. It wasn’t until recently that I became aware that not everyone was this way. I thought that every imagined and pictured things as much as I do. This happens when I listen to music as well. The more I can visual a song and become a part of the story being told the more likely I am to enjoy and relate to the song.
Yesterday morning was no different. I, like many others around the world, was gathered with my church family to celebrate Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus. The very last song we sang in worship was the song “Oh come to the altar” by Elevation Worship. It’s an invitation for all to come and experience what Jesus accomplished with His death and resurrection. It’s an invitation to surrender and experience the love of God.
The chorus of the song goes, “Oh come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide, Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.” As we sang those words I pictured the Father with His arms opened wide to me, full of love for me regardless of what I’ve done.
Immediately I thought of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, a story that Jesus tell during his ministry.
Luke 15:11-32 NIV
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“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.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
It’s funny because most of the time when I’ve read this passage I have focused on who I am in the story and how I act. I am most definitely the son who throws his inheritance away, unworthy to be called a son BUT who the Father welcome back with arms wide open.
I am also, more often than I would like to admit, like this brother who is filled with anger and jealousy. I am often like the brother trying to be good enough hoping that maybe the Father would bestow His blessing on me.
But yesterday as I sang, “Oh come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide…” the picture was a tweak to the story. The picture was of the Father, running towards me with open arms and of Jesus, carrying me in His arms to the Father.
You see, Jesus is the way to the Father’s arms. God the Father will always make a way for us. God is always invested in restoring ALL His children back to himself. His love is large enough to reach us all because of Jesus.
Ephesians 2:13, 17-18 NIV
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ….
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
My prayer is that you too would be able to share in this picture. We don’t have to try to figure our way back to God regardless of how bad we have screwed up or don’t deserve it. If we are willing, Jesus will bring us to the arms of the Father who is anxiously waiting for us to appear.
My prayer is that every person who reads this, regardless of where you are at or what you have done/not done, would surrender to and experience the great love of the Father. All who are broke, broken, weary, hurting, hopeless… “come to the altar, The Father’s arms are open wide, Forgiveness was bought by the precious blood of Jesus Chris.”