The Prodigal Returns
Like many of you, I watched some of the television coverage of the funeral for Billy Graham. He was a wonderful evangelist and representative of the Lord. Presidents, corporate leaders, and movie stars listened to his words of comfort and admonition. He will be remembered as a great man of God in a sick and dying world. I have never known the world without Billy Graham. We will miss him!
As you know, Billy Graham was also a husband and father. That is a side of his life that was kept somewhat quiet. But at his funeral, his children addressed the congregation, and the world. Each spoke of their experiences, and it was touching. Anne and Franklin are fairly well known in the Christian community. They have created respected and successful ministries.
It was when his daughter Ruth spoke of her love for her Dad, that I was overwhelmed. Ruth had been the wayward daughter. Her life took an uncomfortable route, that eventually led to divorce. Then, against the strong advice of her parents, Ruth quickly remarried. When the second marriage also ended in divorce, Ruth found herself needing to return home to her parents. She said that it was one thing to disappoint her Dad. But quite another to disappoint Billy Graham!
Ruth said that as she neared the homestead where her folks lived, she was unsure of what kind of reception she would receive. She deserved a strong lecture and rebuke, because they had lovingly warned her, but she had refused to listen. As she rounded the last corner, there was her dad standing in the driveway with open arms. He hugged her and assured her of his lasting love.
At first, Ruth’s narrative reminds us of the story that Jesus told about the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). The youngest son took his inheritance and squandered it on rebellious living. When he finally came to his senses (vs.17), he returned to his father, and was greeted with open arms and forgiveness. This illustrates the forgiveness of God that is available to us, if we will just turn from our sinful ways and return to the Father.
But the story in 2 Chronicles 33 may be even more relevant to our society today. Manasseh was the son of one of the most Godly men in the Old Testament. His father was Hezekiah, a man “who did that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 31:20). But, just because your parents are strong Believers, does not mean that you will be the same.
So, Manasseh turned his back on his father and God. As a wealthy king, he had everything he needed, and more. He lived a wicked lifestyle and distanced himself from God. He established heathen worship in sacred places as a public statement of his disdain for God. His acts of defiance became a stench in the nostrils of God.
His father died knowing that his son was a rebel from God. But God did not give up on Manasseh. God allowed Manasseh to be captured by his enemy, and tortured. Finally, in his pain, Manasseh came to his senses. He cried out for help, and God set him free.
This type of story is repeated many times in Scripture and in modern life. Man rejects God. Man’s life without God does not satisfy, and he comes to his senses and cries out to God. God hears and welcomes the lost home with forgiveness and love. Be encouraged today. If you have a loved one that has rejected God, there’s hope!