I had just concluded my message and invited those who wanted to receive Christ or needed prayer to come forward to the altar. A number of people were responding to that call but my eyes fell upon one gentleman in particular. To my knowledge, I had never seen him before and there was nothing about his facial expression or manner that would indicate why he was coming forward.
Nevertheless, as I looked at him I heard the familiar voice of the Holy Spirit telling me something. I knew from experience that the Spirit reveals such things only because He wants to heal, restore, encourage and bless. So I stepped toward the man and said, “Sir, as you were coming forward, the Lord told me something he wants you to know. He told me that you feel like the prodigal son because you have been away from him for a very long time. He just wanted me to give you a message from Him—‘Welcome home, son.’”
Instantly the man’s eyes filled with tears and he fell into my arms. On behalf of the Father that ran out to meet the returning prodigal of Jesus’ parable, I put him in a bear hug that depicted in tangible terms the loving, forgiving embrace that awaits every person who turns to God.
What I did not know was that this night was the man’s first time inside the walls of a church in nearly 20 years. As he told me later, he had been raised in a Christian home and had given his life to Jesus as a boy. His Christian wife had been praying for him. But he had strayed and been running from God for a long, long time. True to form, the enemy had been lying to him and telling him God would not receive him if he returned. “You’ve done too much. You’ve been to sinful. God has given up on you.”
So nervous was he about his return to church that halfway to the meeting, he pulled the car over into an empty parking lot. When his wife asked him what was wrong he had turned to her and said these words, “I’m like the prodigal son. But I just don’t know if God will really have me back. I’m afraid.” With some encouragement from her, he continued on to the service. And because the Holy Spirit still speaks, it was my privilege to bring him a very specific, amazingly redemptive word from a loving heavenly Father.
I love the parable of "The Prodigal Son." But I love even more the truth about God that this timeless story reveals. Currently on The Blessed Life television broadcast I'm teaching a series built upon that parable called "Lost & Found." If you've missed of the episodes you can catch up right here on this site!