God’s Patient Heart
The story of the prodigal son moves my heart to delve into the depths of God’s limitless grace. I find myself in every facet of Jesus’ words. I identify with both the son’s rebellion and the power of the father’s love. As children of God we are in constant need of reminders about God’s mercy toward us. When the world rejects us, God calls us in. When the world writes us off, God clothes us with righteousness and honor. May this transformative story of the prodigal son guide you to a deeper and more intimate relationship with your loving heavenly Father.
Scripture:“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
Our heavenly Father is abundantly patient with us. So vast is his love that our hearts can always be filled with his affection. So perfect is his leadership and wisdom that he makes available to us a perfect and pleasing life through every season. And yet he is patient to guide us into the fullness of life afforded to us by Christ’s sacrifice. He waits, sweetly beckoning us to simply trust him and cultivate a heart of constant communion with him.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells us of a prodigal son who foolishly and pridefully leaves perfect communion with his father to chase after worldly satisfaction. The father lovingly obliges his son, offers him his inheritance as if he himself were dead, and watches as his son leaves a life in his father’s care to lead a lifestyle of destruction. And the father waits, patiently hoping for the return of his child.
I find myself daily leaving the perfection of communion with my heavenly Father to seek the things of the world. I seek after success and admiration from the lost and broken rather than simply receiving the unconditional acceptance of my Father. I abandon perfect peace for the striving and stress of worldly gain. I reject the loving and perfect thoughts of my Father for the fleeting and unfounded affection of others.
I am the prodigal son. We all are. And yet our heavenly Father has a patient heart toward us. He waits to run out to meet us. Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Just when I think my heavenly Father will reject me for my sin and rebellion, he runs out to clothe me with the best robe, a ring, and new shoes (Luke 15:22). Just when I think he’ll send me off to the fields as a slave for punishment, he throws a feast in my honor (Luke 15:23-24). Just when I think I am unworthy of his affections and attention, he reminds me of the death of his Son, sacrificed that I might receive the abundance of unconditional love and grace my Father has toward me.
I long to live in the embrace of my Father. I long to end my days of wayward pursuits. I long to rest in the perfect communion available to me in Jesus. There is no source of true love apart from him. There is no relationship more satisfying than one with our God. There is no identity more freeing than being the child of the Creator. And there is no real grace outside of his overwhelmingly patient heart.
May we, as the bride of Christ, turn our feet toward the home of our Father and confess our need of him. May we humble ourselves before a God who is both patient and powerful. And may we allow him to pick us up off our knees, clothe us with honor and love, and wrap us up in his grace-filled arms. Your God is patient toward you, waiting with expectation in his heart for what he can do in your life. Receive the love he longs to give and experience the abundant life that comes only through restored relationship with your patient Father.
1. Meditate on the patient heart of God. Allow his patience to draw you into the deeper places of his heart. Receive his presence and rest in the knowledge of his love.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” >2 Peter 3:9
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” Psalm 73:28
2. In what ways have you been living like the prodigal son? Where have you gone your own way and abandoned the perfect peace that comes from total communion with the Father?
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” >Isaiah 26:3
3. Turn your heart toward the Father, repent of your sin, and allow him to fill you with his abundant love. Ask him to reveal his love to you today right where you’re at. Ask him how he feels about you. And let his love wash away any shame or guilt that would keep you from experiencing the full breadth of his affection.
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:4-5
The patience of our Father is by no means a weakness as the world might think. Our God is patient because he has perfect perspective and purpose. He values that which actually matters and doesn’t concern himself with worldly pursuits. He sees the full path of your life. He knows the reasons for which you were created. He knows the highs and lows you will go through. And he is patient toward you. Rest in his patience. Allow his perspectives to become yours. And live today at the pace at which he guides you, trusting that his patient heart will lead you to his perfect and pleasing will.
Extended Reading: 2 Peter 3
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