“I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned” (Luke 15:18).
Think about what the prodigal son lost in all these years. First, he lost his home. As long as he had money, his friends might have invited him around to their homes; but it was not the same as the loving home he left behind. There is not a prodigal upon the face of the earth who has not lost their home. You may live in a mansion on a hill, but if God is not there, it is no home. If your conscience is calling you back home, you are not home.
He also lost his food. His father’s table with all its bounty did not go to that far country. After he lost it all, the prodigal would have fed on the husks that the swine ate, but no one gave to him. This world cannot give satisfaction to the soul; only God can do that.
Then he lost his testimony. I can imagine some of the young men of that country seeing him among the swine, feeding them and taking the place of a shepherd’s dog among them, and they said, “Look at that poor wretched young man, with no shoes on his feet, and with rags for clothes.” They looked at him and called him a beggar, and pointed the finger of scorn at him. He said, “Don’t call me a beggar; my father is a wealthy man.” Not one of them believed him; his credibility and testimony were gone. When a man goes in the service of the devil, he sinks lower and lower, and it is not long before everyone loses confidence in him. One sin leads to another, and before long his testimony is gone.
But there is one thing that he did not lose, and for anyone who is a backslider, there is one thing you have not lost. That young man never lost his father’s love. I can imagine one of his father’s neighbors meeting him in that place, and saying to him, “Your father wants you to come home.” I can imagine the young man said, “I thought he had forgotten me.” “No,” says the man, “he thinks of you day and night. He cannot forget you; he loves you too much for that!” You, too, can never lose the Father’s love. He is there for you, waiting for you to return to Him.
When the prodigal finally came to himself, he said, “I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father” (vv. 17,18). And that was the turning point in this young man’s life. There is always hope for a person when he or she begins to think. I wish you would bear in mind that, if you are willing to own your sin, and confess that you have wandered from God, God is willing to receive you. The very moment you are willing to come, that moment God is willing and ready to receive you. He delights in forgiveness. I do not care how vile you have been. God the Father loves you still. His heart is aching for you as He stands waiting to forgive you freely.
—Adapted from “The Gospel Awakening,” a sermon by D.L. Moody.