There are times in life when your spirit is touched in the very core of your being.
Billy Graham’s funeral was one of those heart moving moments. If you are a Christian and witnessed the service, you know what I mean. If you didn’t view it, go find it. Watch how Dr. Graham’s life was honored and, most importantly, his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was glorified.
All five of his children gave a short testimony of what their Daddy, as they affectionately called him, had touched and influenced their personal life.
Daughter Ruth’s words were stunningly inspirational. She recalled how she had been divorced twice and “made a mess of my life”. She had moved away from the family after the first marriage didn’t work out. Ruth got involved in a “fast and furious” relationship with a widower. Her parents counseled her not to marry this man, but she went ahead. She said “I sinned”. One day after the union, she knew it was a mistake. Within a few weeks, she divorced and headed home with her children from Seattle to North Carolina.
As she drove for two days, her heart was heavy, wondering and worried about how she would be received by her family. “I felt like such a failure”. As she weaved through the winding hills surrounding the Graham home, and headed up the driveway, she stopped the car and got out. Standing, waiting for his daughter, “Daddy wrapped his arms around me and said ‘welcome home‘”.
“My Daddy wasn’t God.” But reflecting on that tender, daddy-daughter moment of reconciliation, Ruth said that my Daddy showed me that my heavenly Father loves me unconditionally.
When Ruth finished, there wasn’t a dry eye under the tent of over 2,500 people. I wept with joy. “Welcome home” resonated in my heart of hearts. I was overwhelmed with the truth that no matter who we are, no matter what we have done, no matter what we are feeling, no matter what family we come from, no matter what others think, God loves us. Period.
Ruth’s story reminds me of another true story of unconditional love in the Bible. The Parable of the Prodigal Son has been read and loved by millions. Prodigal means wasteful. The tale of a wayward son who wasted his inheritance is recorded in Luke 15:11-32. Please read the passage for yourself. I will highlight the main points of the teaching.
The Prodigal Son.
The younger son, with wide-eyed adventure and a lust for independence and pleasure flowing through his veins, received his inheritance from his father before Dad died. He traveled to a far country, spent all he had on wine, women, song and false friends.
He ended up flat broke, in a pig pen, feeding swine. Not a good place for a Jewish boy to be! While wallowing in the much with the hogs, the Bible says “he came to his senses”, deciding to head home to his father, not as a son, but as a slave.
The Loving Father.
Every day the prodigal’s father, who missed his son and cared about his well-being, looked for his lost boy to come home. One day, the father looked down the road, and lo and behold, his disheveled, depressed son was heading home. The boy had humiliated his father and family, the community, smelled like a pig pen, was filthy, coatless, without sandals on his feet, and penniless.
The father showered his unconditional love for his son by doing the following.
- He ran to his son. Elders in Jewish culture did not run. This dad’s heart was pounding with desire to get to his son, to bring him home. Hence, he ran as fast as he could to greet his boy.
- He put his coat on his son. Why? The Levitical Law decreed that a disobedient, rebellious son could be stoned to death by the community. Dad’s coat provided protection if people hurled rocks at his boy as he trudged home.
- He put his signet ring on his son’s dirty finger. The ring was like a credit card, bearing the father’s name and granting the bearer the right to the card owners wealth. Incredible, amazing love that the father gave access to his money to the one who wasted his inheritance.
- He had his servants put sandals on his son’s smelly feet. What’s the big deal about that? Slaves were sandal-less (if that is a word) so they wouldn’t run away. Sons wore sandals, a sign of belonging to a family and freedom.
- He ordered his servants to put on a feast of prime rib. Party time. We must and will celebrate because this son of mine who was lost is found!
Glory to God! What a holy, happy, healthy reunion of father and son on that road that day!
The Elder Brother.
Enter the first-born son. He was not happy with his younger, shameful brother. He felt ripped off, gipped because his father hadn’t thrown him a party for being a good boy. He called his brother “your son”. He needed an attitude adjustment. The father said “this your brother” is back home. We must rejoice because he is no longer lost.
Everything this loving father did was a “Welcome Home” son event.
Imagine how the once wayward son felt! Oh my, no words can describe the relief he experienced when his daddy treated him like the son he had always been in his father’s heart.
Welcome home. Who doesn’t like to hear those words from loved ones?
We all do, and we all can. Ruth Graham heard those words from her earthly daddy and will one day hear them from her Heavenly Father.
You and I may or may not hear welcome home from an earthly father. But be assured, for everyone, including you and me, who receives Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior will walk across the Welcome Home mat laid out for them at the entrance of heaven! What a homecoming that will be!
Have you experienced the unconditional love of God? Have you received the grace of God?
Are you certain that you will be welcomed home by the Lord when your earthly life ends?
Give your heart to Christ today.
“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
A Word For Your Week:
God’s unconditional love welcomes us home to His arms and heaven.