Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
TITLE: A Very Present Help
By Penny Schultz
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I was in a valley of sorrow.
One evening I was sitting at my computer, writing in my blog space. I began to think about the prodigal son and his father.
The father of the prodigal son has to be a study in faith. Here is a man who graciously gave his son the inheritance he asked for. As any father would, he knew his son well, his character -- strengths and flaws.
I imagine that he complied with his younger son's request with much hesitation. In his heart, he probably could see the rugged road ahead. The road would lead his son, not only far from the father who loved him, but onto paths and into places this young man was not prepared for.
I can see him sigh, quietly, but deeply, probably breathing a prayer to the Father God in whom he trusted.
"My faithful Father, please watch over my son."
He stands silently at the door, watching as the young man travels out of sight.
I feel his heavy heart. He wants to run after his son, to implore him to stay. He doesn't, he must let him go. He must let him find his way, find himself, and to find his God.
Just as he turns to go inside, a small voice speaks to his heart. A familiar, faithful voice, speaking comfort, peace and hope.
"I AM GOD, the faithful God, who keeps covenant......"
He remembers the promise. To a thousand generations, he keeps covenant.
"He is faithful. He will be faithful to keep covenant with me concerning my son".
Comforted by the peace of God's word and His faithfulness to keep it, he lays his weary head to rest, and sleeps deeply.
The story Jesus told didn't indicate a time factor. We've no way of knowing how long the young son was gone before his heart finally turned to home. What we do know is that his father watched for him. He must have been looking for him every day. Each night before turning to go to bed, I see him looking down the lonely road, one last time before sleeping.
Each day after waking, taking a long look down the road, before going to whatever work he had to do, straining his eyes to see any movement on the road.
"Later, then. God is faithful."
Day after day, night after night.
What had he been doing that day? Was he finishing his breakfast, or was he finishing work for the day? Did he hesitate at all believing it was his son he saw walking down the road, or did he know in his heart -- "
"This is my son!", even before he was close enough to know his face?
Luke says that while he was a great way off, the father ran to him. He was expecting him to return. He watched for him day after day. He was always full of love for his son, even knowing he would come home humbled and poor. He only wanted his son safe and at home.
He ran to his son and threw his arms around him. I wonder if he even heard the words his son spoke to him. He was immediately ordering servants to bring the robe and the ring, to kill the fatted calf. He had already forgiven the young man--long before he was asking. His heart was filled with rejoicing.
"This, my son, who once was dead, is alive again! He was lost, but now he is found!"
Speak to my heart, my Father. Just as you did to this faithful father. Enable me to be full of faith for the prodigal's returning. Help me to look for the return, day after day, not doubting when I lay my head to rest, but remaining faithful, to trust in the covenant you made with me and my family. Keep me from growing weary in the wait. Don't let me stumble into fear or unbelief. I know that you are GOD, the FAITHFUL GOD. You keep covenant -- with me.
In the valley of sorrow, I am not alone.
GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH, A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE.
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