March 03 

How Then Shall We Live?

Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“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.” – Luke 15:20

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When God Ran

In this verse (Luke 15:20), we see the only mention of when God ran. It is found within the Parable of the Prodigal son. Here we see a joyful Father running at the first sight of his prodigal son returning that had left him some time ago.

For a parent it is heart wrenching to have a child go the way of a prodigal. The pain of this sorrow is deeper than one can imagine. You second guess the way you raised your children, the things you said, the choices you made, but it the end it is their choice to leave. This sorrow resides in a deep place within your soul. In this verse, God shows us how we should treat a prodigal that returns home; “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.” – Luke 15:20

There is another parable where Jesus left the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one sheep that went astray (Luke 15:4). In Greek text, the word “astray” used here can also be translated, “deceived astray”. How do you deal with a prodigal child? Do you go after them, or do you let him go as the Father illustrated in the Prodigal’s parable did for his son? These are very hard questions. The father in this story waited for his son to return and then ran to him when he saw him coming towards him. 

A closer look at the culture of that day shows that the Father may have had to run to his son in an effort to save his life from being stoned to death. The son had dishonored his Father. In those days, many a rebellious son had been stoned for a lesser offense. The son would have had to pass through the housing of the Father’s servants and neighbors. Stoning was certainly a possibility, and the Father knew this. Perhaps this is why he “Ran” to his son. Perhaps he had heard others talking about what would be a just punishment for his rebellious son. Perhaps he ran to protect him from any harm.

Another thing to consider is the Father’s robe. He would have had to lift up the bottom of his robe to run to his son. This was a sign of dishonor for a father to lift up his robe and run in any manner, thus showing his concern only for the life of his son who was lost and was now returning. This parable is rich with many treasures and insights for anyone wanting to study how God receives back to Himself those of us who choose to leave.

I’m reminded of another story on this topic about a daughter who left her mother one night to pursue the things that she had heard the world had to offer her. The mother had always left a light on and her door unlocked for her daughter when she would return home late at night. The daughter consumed by her passions, came home later and later until one evening until she did not return home at all. Her passions had taken her flesh far beyond her wildest imaginations.

Then one day, she was reminded of her mother. Many years had passed. She quickly headed home, traveling all day to see her mother. When she arrived late at night, she saw the light that her mother had left on, and was surprised to find the door was left unlocked.

When she entered her mother’s home, she asked her mother why she had left the light on so late, and why the door was unlocked so late at night. Her mother replied that she did this every night since she had left, anticipating her return, and now she was joyful that the day had finally come of her return home. The daughter fell to her mother’s feet and wept. Such devoted love from the broken heart of a mother.

I think that there are few things harder in life than being a parent of a prodigal. Never lose hope for the day when you can rejoice in the words spoken by a Father many years ago (Luke 15:23-24); “And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”



“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise 😉 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3


“It is always on the backside of the desert that we come to the mountain of God – on the backside of the desert of self, at the end of our own dreams and ambitions and plans. Poor Moses had quite a come-down from the courts of Egypt to the desert of Midian. He carried in his hand only the shepherd’s rod, fit symbol of his humiliation. God demanded that he cast even that to ground. And when he took it up again it became henceforth the ‘Rod of the Lord.’ If God has brought you to the backside of the desert, if you are reduced, as it were, to a shepherd’s rod, cast even that gladly at His feet and He will restore it to you the rod of God – and with it you shall work wonders in His name so long as you ‘Endure as seeing Him Who is invisible” – Vance Havner, American preacher (1901-1986)


“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” – 1 Peter 4: 12-13 e=func