I recently came across the picture ‘Love that Lifts a Child’ by Kristi Valiant which is I think is a beautiful image and illustration of true love.
The picture is inspired by the story of the Prodigal son in which a son asked for his inheritance early and then he left home and began a new life which was really great until he spent all his money. Eventually he was left destitute and homeless and he was so hungry that he even thought about eating the food he was supposed to feed to the pigs. In that moment of utter desperation and brokenness, the son decided to return home. He planned to tell his dad that he was sorry and that he was no longer worthy to be called his son and to beg that he might be allowed to become a servant in order to survive.
As the son made his way home feeling broken, lost and dejected he was probably expecting rejection or perhaps to be looked down upon or mocked. After all, how can you go to the father who gave you half of everything he owned in the knowledge that you spent it all. The son didn’t feel worthy to look his father in the eye but he also knew that he didn’t want to die and going home felt like his only option.
As he neared home, the son must have been astonished to see his father running to meet him and I love the way that Kristi’s picture captures the amazing love of the father for his son.
This is her inspiration statement for piece:
What inspired me most from this parable was the father’s loving heart. The shadow represents the father’s view that his son will always be his little child. Even when his son basically said, “I wish you were dead and I had your money,” the father handed the money over without bitterness. In the culture of that day, the son should have been disinherited or even stoned. A father who loves his son that much had to have had high hopes for that boy. Did he pray for his baby son? Did he watch his son’s heart grow harder through the years? Did his own heart mourn for those younger days? When the rebellious son finally took some steps back towards the father, did the father run to meet him and lift him in the air with such overflowing joy that he couldn’t contain himself?
You can read more on Kristi’s blog.
The story and the picture should remind us of the great love that God has for us. Even when we stray from him and make mistakes, he will always love us and accept us back.
It is heartbreaking to know that some people try to gain God’s approval and love when God wants to freely accept us whenever we turn to him.
We shouldn’t serve God to gain his love,
we serve God in response to his love.
Can you accept that God loves you or are you trying to earn his approval?
If my children spoke to me the way that the son spoke to his father on his return, it would break my heart. The son is declaring that their relationship is broken in contrast to the Father who is delighted that their relationship is being restored.
This is a picture of true love. Love that is freely given rather than being based on what might be given in return. This is true love and not a contract of agreement, this is acceptance and not disapproval even when disapproval would be an appropriate response.
Do you identify with the son today? Do you feel far from God? Are you convinced that you aren’t worthy to be his child? If this is your attitude then I hope that you can realize that it isn’t God’s! He longs to run and meet you as you turn to him! So what is stopping you?
You can read the story of the prodigal son in the Bible. It is in Luke 15 starting at v11.
If you want to think about God’s love and our response to him some more then you might find The One About A Special Moment helpful.