“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 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.”
When we’re lost in the woods, the road out is longer than the road in. It’s easy to forge off on our own, either to chase a desire or escape reality. We might start on the right path, but often we end up searching for something that’s not best for us. The result? We wind up far from home, far from help and far from hope. The road back is right there, but like the prodigal son, we wonder if it’s too late to turn around. The truth is, it’s never too soon to turn around.
Humans are notorious for running from God, themselves, and/or community. Musician Frank Sinatra hit it on the head in his song. “I did it my way!” is how we prefer to operate, regardless of real-life consequences. It takes a lot—typically a lot of mistakes and pain—for people to muster the humility and courage to admit we’re wrong. Even when we’ve been down a wayward path before, we somehow miss telltale signs that regret, embarrassment, and hurt are right around the bend. Just ask any recovering addict, married person, parent, employee, college student, or senior citizen (well, anyone, really!). You don’t need much life experience to recall a time you should have turned around earlier.
The prodigal son’s turning point came when he was at his lowest, but I imagine it wasn’t the first time he considered returning home during his selfish escapades. Eventually, he realized his wrongdoing and crawled back to his family. I’m impressed that the son was prepared for a scolding and stern consequences, but his father surprised him with reckless love and a block party. Based on all Jesus teaches about the heavenly Father, we can presume that the same would happen whether the son headed home right away or further down the road.
Today, you and I are going to mess up. We might even see it coming. Let this story about the prodigal son bolster your willingness to seek help and, if needed, ask forgiveness earlier than later. Even if it feels embarrassing or shameful, it’s never too soon to turn around.
God promises in 1 John 1:9 to fully forgive us if we confess our wrongdoings to Him. James 5:16 is clear that we can experience healing by telling others about our failures. Take time today to connect with your heavenly Father and a close friend about something that’s weighing on your heart or a sin you feel stuck in.