Summary: When I could not reach Mercy, Mercy came to me
Mercy Came Running
(18) I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
(19) And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
(20) And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
We all know the story of the prodigal son, of how the young son of a wealthy man went to his father and demanded his portion of the estate. And how he took that money and went to a far country and squandered it. He spent his money on what the Bible calls riotous living. He blew all his money partying, having a good time with his new best friends. He was the life of the party, as long as he had the money to buy the next round. But when the money ran out, so did all of his friends. The Bible says is vs. 14 that there rose a great famine in the land and he began to be in want. And with no money and no friends, he had to find work. So he started feeding the swine, here you have a young Jewish man feeding hogs. For a Jewish man a hog is about the nastiest animal alive. For him that was about as low as he could go, he was hungry and he was ashamed of what his life had become, and he started to miss home. He started to miss the life he had when he was close to his father, and that’s when he looked to the one that could pull him back up.
He said in verse 18 - I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.
This was not some half hearted decision, he didn’t say, “Well, I’m broke and hungry, I’ll get daddy to bail me out.” No this was a true act of repentance. He was willing to crawl home and beg his father to take him back, not as a son, but as a servant. In verse 19 he says he is no longer worthy to be called a son.
So he went home with big long speech prepared to give his father, he probably rehearsed over and over again on the walk home. But, what did the father do? By rights his father could have brushed him off, he could have told his son that he blew it, that he went too far, that he made his bed and now he would have lie in it. But he didn’t, the Bible says that the son didn’t even get home, verse 20 says that when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran to him and hugged him. Now, what makes this even more compelling is the father did all of this before the son could ever give his speech. Mercy came Running
When a Christian backslides, they are a lot like the prodigal son:
1. He left home - he tuned his back on his father
When the son took his portion of the estate and left home he was basically saying “ look dad, I don’t need you anymore, I can make it on my own“. And he turned his back on his father and went out into the world. He walked away from his father, and his father let him leave. His father didn’t try to force him to stay, he didn’t threaten him, he just let him leave. Even though it was the hardest thing his father had ever had to do. He let his son go. When a Christian leaves church it is no different, when we turn our backs on God and walk away, He lets us go. God will not force you to serve Him, even though it rips His heart out each time one of His children turns away, He lets us go.
2. He lost it all -
When a Christian turns away from God, they will lose it all. All their joy, all their peace, and all their happiness. Oh, it may not happen all at once, they can be happy for a while, but sooner or later it will catch up with them. Sooner or later there will come a famine in their lives. Things will start to go downhill. They will start to miss the closeness they once had with the Father, but instead of coming back to where they know they need to be, they will start to try to fill the void with other things. It may be drugs, or it may be drinking or it may be clubs. But sooner or later they will hit bottom and find themselves in the hog pen, feeding the swine. Look around at some of the backslidden Christians you know, they are some of the most miserable people on the face of the earth. They may try to put on a false happiness, but you can tell, you can see it in their faces.