It was hotter than I imagined.
When my sister and I booked a time to go through a corn maze with her kids, I assumed it would feel like autumn. Instead, it was an unseasonably warm day, and I was dressed in a hat and heavy sweater. I could feel sweat trickling down my back as I yanked the wagon through the maze.
“How much farther?” I muttered. We’d been walking for at least thirty minutes, and there was no end in sight.
I ripped my hat off my head and wrapped my sweater around my waist, trying to feel a little cooler. Then it hit me: We needed a shortcut.
“Follow me,” I said. Instead of staying on the ridiculously winding path, I decided to plow the wagon through the corn stalks. (I truly am so sorry to the farmers.) I was convinced this would be faster. We could cut through to the other side. Easy peasy.
Except the corn stalks were taller than I had expected, and suddenly I had no idea which way we were supposed to go. We were lost in the center of a corn field.
“We’re never getting out of here,” my sister said.
My leadership skills clearly needed some refining. I’d led us to disaster. I continued to drag the wagon through the corn, my niece and nephew trying to dodge the corn stalks that flew towards their faces.
But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find my way out. My “shortcut” just made us more lost. I was convinced my way was better, but in reality, I had no idea where I was going. I just wanted to go home.
Suddenly the face of an older man appeared through the corn stalks. “Are you okay?” he asked us.
I smiled sheepishly. “I thought going through the corn would be faster. But now we can’t find our way out.”
His face was kind. “You were so close to the end. Come with me.”
We followed him for a few minutes and then saw the most glorious sight — the exit sign. I just about cried with relief and have vowed to never go through a corn maze again.
The problem is, I don’t just get lost in corn mazes. I tend to wander off path often, thinking I can find a better way. God’s way often feels a little too slow, requires a bit too much patience, and I don’t tend to understand exactly where He’s taking me. So I hack my way through, convinced I’ll figure it out on my own.
But I just end up lost.
The prodigal son did this too. He wanted to make his own way. He splurged his father’s money, slept around, and couldn’t have cared less about the honor of his family.
Until one day he realized he was terribly far from home and utterly lost. He finally decided to make his way back, shoulders slouched in shame. Unbeknownst to him, all along, there was a light on his father’s front porch, a fire on the hearth, and a cozy robe draped on a chair. His father was waiting each day to see if his son would come home. When the father saw the boy finally returning, he went to him — sprinting! — and welcomed him back to where he always belonged. The father shouted, “He was lost, but now he is found!”
Like the prodigal son, we can convince ourselves that we’ll only be accepted back if we can somehow earn it, but the Father runs with utter abandon toward us when we start walking back home.
God knows I will fail a thousand times. Each friend Jesus made seemed to fail Him one way or another. Jesus knew His friend Peter would betray him — and still He built His church on Peter who seemed more like shifting sand than a rock. God knows I will fail. He knows how capable I am — not necessarily of good — but of evil, of lies, of cheating, of lust, of distance, of envy, of wanting glory for myself. And yet even in my failure, God does not chastise, reprimand, or scold me. Instead, He welcomes me with open arms and says, “I’m so glad you are home.”
This unconditional love is with us every day — but most days it feels too good to be true. We can convince ourselves we need to earn it, prove that we’re somehow worth it. A love without strings attached can seem almost eerie, and our failures haunt us.
But we are never too lost or too far off the path that we won’t be welcomed home. There is a celebration waiting for us, festivities beyond our wildest imaginations. Our Father always knows where we are and is always trembling with excitement to welcome us back home.
No matter how far we wander, when we come back — caked in heartache and covered in mud — we’ll see Him sprinting toward us, His arms wide open, waiting. He won’t ask us where we’ve been or what we’ve done. Instead we’ll see the porch light on, and hear God whisper, “Welcome home.”Leave a Comment
This is such a reassuring reminder. Thank you.
Aliza Latta says
So grateful to hear, Madeline!
This is beautiful, Aliza,
Thank you for sharing the truth about our Running Father, and His unconditional love. Your corn maze story will continue to be a reminder to me, to stay on the path, rather than take my own shortcuts. For further insight into the Prodigal Son (and the 2 parables, pertaining to a lost sheep and a lost coin…that connect to it, on the subject of repentance — Luke 15), I would highly recommend the New Lens Ministry study, “The Running Father.” It breaks open such great truths, filled with cultural considerations from the Middle Eastern perspective in which it was taught. Blessings and peace over you and your ministry.
Aliza Latta says
I love the name “Running Father” – so beautiful. I will definitely check out that study! Thank you!
Jennifer Hassel says
Love this. Yes, I too am guilty of trying to take shortcuts when God’s plan indicates that I should stay the course a bit longer. Your story is well written and memorable. Thank you.
Aliza Latta says
I hear you, Jennifer!
Beautifully written! This can apply to any season in our life, and is very applicable to Advent which is considered the beginning of the church year.
Merry Christmas, Sandy
Aliza Latta says
Merry Christmas, Sandy!
Becky Keife says
What an extravagantly kind God we have. His path is always best! Thank you for this beautiful reminder, friend.
What a wonderful reminder of Gods love for us. Sometimes we need to pinch ourselves with how patient he is with us. Ties in nicely with Christmas around the corner.
Beth Williams says
In the first century a middle Eastern man never, ever ran. He would have to hitch up his tunic so as not to trip & thus show his bare legs. In that culture, it was humiliating and shameful for a man to show his bare legs. Why would the father run to His son? if a Jewish son lost his inheritance among Gentiles, and then returned home, the community would perform a ceremony, called the kezazah. They would break a large pot in front of him and yell, “You are now cut off from your people!” The community would totally reject him. Thus the father runs to meet him at the edge of the village before he enters, thus avoiding kezazah. That is a great visual of how our Heavenly Father treats us. He runs toward us sweeping us up in His arms.
Don’t worry about your past or how far you’ve veered off course. Jesus will always welcome us home. He won’t just welcome us home, but throw a huge celebration in our honor. There is more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 persons who don’t need to repent.
So real, so well-written, and so timely. Thank you!
For some reason, I missed this post yesterday. Maybe I needed it today. We spent a couple years doing all the right things at church. This board and that team. We got bit. I stepped back to take inventory on where my heart was…I feel more focused on God….maybe?