Images and a Parable
I am no different, and I can recall various images of my father. My dad worked very hard to provide for us. That meant he was absent a lot. He played the guitar, and he and I would sing together on Friday nights. He loved books and dogs and told haunting stories of growing up African American in the South. Although he had quiet moments, when he talked, he could talk a marathon all by himself. I lost my dad about ten years ago, and having God the Father in my life means more now than ever before.
When I scan the Bible for images of my Heavenly Father, I find quite a bit. But there is one parable that Jesus told that paints an unusual portrait.
The parable of the Prodigal Son is a story about a son who takes his inheritance from his father before his father dies. He squanders it by living a fast life and when it is gone and he has nowhere to go, he returns to his father. His father is so happy to see him that he runs to meet him and throws his son a party. His older brother is quite upset about this. He never left home. He did everything his father wanted but never had a party for his unwavering commitment. Then the story ends. It is a beautiful story and it is found in the Bible, Luke 15:11-32.
Three Unusual Portraits
Here are three unusual portraits I found about the father.
*Fathers don’t give out inheritances before they die. But in this story he gives the son what he wants.
*After the son leaves the father, he looks for him everyday without griping about the lost wealth. He is devoted to the idea that his son will return.
*When the son appears a long way off, the father picks up his robe and runs to meet him. I imagine that he must have thrown his arms around a dirty and smelly son. How unusual for a father to do this in this culture.
How God Views His Children
The father in this story is our Heavenly Father. Jesus is showing us through these images how God views His children. Even when we choose to walk away from Him and do what we want, God looks for us to return. He is ready and poised to forgive no matter the circumstances, even when we squander away the gifts He has given to us. Then according to this story, our Father celebrates our return.
Even though the parable doesn’t say that the Father loves deeply, these images show us that our God has amazing love for every one of His children. He is faithful.
Written by Pamela Williams, MPH, R.D.
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