In a far country

It is hard for a good girl to know when she is walking away from God.

The bad girls and boys do it clearly. They ask for their inheritance straight up, off to gamble it away and say ‘ciao for now, I’d actually rather you were dead, God.’

I don’t tend to do that. But there is another type of walking away.

It happens in the day to day busyness, the loving of fun and distraction and the Internet more than true relationship. The edging away, the gradual letting go of priorities, the loosening of the fight for holiness, the blurring of the lines between culture and Christian, no longer being distinctive, fading into the background – until one day you stop yourself and ask, ‘Am I eating pig swill? Have I abandoned the feasting in my Father’s house for this?’

And I return to Luke 15, and need to read the words once more of that incredible picture of God as Father, standing at his home, honorable, faithful, hurt and injured but still loving. I need to pause awhile on that image of God seeing his child from a long way off, and breaking into a run – how God chooses indignity rather than grudge-bearing, how His very being speaks of joy and restoration and how He is just running, running, running to put His arms around us and welcome us home.

Over to you:

  • Which part of the story do you most need to hear today – the warning against walking away, or the joy of seeing God running?

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30 Responses to In a far country

  1. Emily 5th October, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Hmm. Second time this parable has come up in a meaningful way for me this week. I am also slow to realize that I might be walking away. I relate mostly to the older brother and all his self-importance and lists of ‘how to do stuff right’ – neglecting a relationship with the Father as much as the younger brother. Thanks for the reminder that we are welcomed home.

    • Tanya 8th October, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      I think I’m a bit of an older brother type too… I’m so glad that this has been meaningful for you this week – hope that God continues to whisper to you through it. Xx

  2. Claire Musters 5th October, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Hi Tanya
    Great post – as usual. It’s the getting used to the distractions that makes it harder to realise that you’re walking further away. I can so relate to that. But what struck me most today was the image of the Father running – ‘choosing indignity rather than grudge-bearing’. Oh how much I can learn from that! And how grateful I am to God that His response to us is always loving…

    • Tanya 5th October, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

      Thank you, Claire! I think both things were present in my mind too – it was really moving to meditate on the Father running from a long way off.

  3. Nick 5th October, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    This reminds me of this:
    Which may not, of course, make it through your spam filter…
    But it’s a song from my youth (and perhaps yours…)
    ‘Looked in my face, wiped the tears from my eyes, with forgiveness in His voice, He said, “Son”, He said, “Son, my Son, do you know I still love you?”
    Oh, He ran to me.’

    • Tanya 8th October, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      Thanks for this! I hadn’t heard it before, so it was excruciatingly 80’s rather than deeply nostalgic… Good words though!

  4. Mary 5th October, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    This is one of the most beautiful posts on welcome that I have read! Truly lovely and I need the joy of seeing God running. Great stuff you’ve written today!


    • Tanya 8th October, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      Thanks so much! Lovely to see you again 🙂

  5. Jolene 5th October, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Thank image from Luke is so powerful, and reassuring. Thanks for sharing this morning! Happy Friday.

    • Tanya 5th October, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

      Thanks, Jolene!

  6. Linda 5th October, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I appreciate your thoughtfulness. You are right. Good girls often amble away from God rather than making a clear prodigal break. So thankful that the Father is actively waiting for us to return to Him!

    • Tanya 8th October, 2012 at 10:16 am #

      Thank you, Linda! It’s hard for me to remember that the ambling is just as dangerous…

  7. Belinda Letchford 5th October, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Today is my first with 5 Minute Friday and your post had me gripped from the start. So well done in writing such a thought provoking piece in such a short time!
    Me personally, I probably needed to hear about the slippery slide of walking away – and yet I liked hearing the bit about the welcoming arms! My kids went to a youth camp in the beginning of the year and they talked about those ‘respectable’ sins…. sins that we don’t make a big deal about: the little lie, the little attitude etc. and how they lead into the slippery slide. But to Jesus sin is sin and we need to be whole heartedly worshipping Him.

    • Tanya 5th October, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

      Hey – welcome to 5 min Friday! I love it – it really helps me feel a freedom in writing. I’m so impressed that they were talking about ‘respectable sins’ at your kids’ youth camp – it sounds like a really good thing for us to remember as adults as well. Thanks so much for your encouragement – hope to see you again!

  8. Mia 5th October, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Dear, dear Tanya
    God spoke to me today through your writing! I was admiring and wearing my Olympics golden medal for sulking this week, when I was worrying that my blog would not be a success. Until I realized that I am firstly writing for my Pappa, for His glory and what happens afterwards is all up to Him. I had to repent of seeking man’s glory, before I could experience His sweet love, joy and peace again. He blesses only what comes from a heart full of love for Him; the rest, from His perspective, I suppose is only building with wood, stubble and hay! I asked Him to break down all those shelters in my heart and He did. Now I can live in sweet communion with Him again, praising, worshipping and loving Him. The first post I wrote on my blog was on this very same topic of His incredible Father Heart. I have come to the conclusion that this parable is not so much about the prodigal son, but more about that incredible Father of Love. Have a lovely weekend, my dear friend! Blessings

    • Tanya 5th October, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

      I’m so glad it encouraged you!
      (and on the topic of blog readership – I can definitely recommend joining in with others’ ‘link-ups’ like I do on Weds and Fridays – it helps in getting to know other bloggers too!)

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