I want to be the one who hugs before the speech. Odd thing to say, I know, but bear with me.
I have recently taken some time reflecting on the parable of the prodigal son. Take a look at Luke 15:11-24 (NIV):
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Such a beautiful picture. That father wasn’t just glancing out the window by chance. He walked to edge of his property. Every. Single. Day. Waiting for his son. Wanting his child home. Looking with expectation and hope. He had be greatly disrespected and wronged by this son he loved, who he had given all to. But what the father wanted most was not a big explanation, not the restoration of the riches this kid had squandered, but the safe return of the son he loved. So he waited and he watched and he hoped.
Meanwhile, this wayward son, broken and alone, long-abandoned by the friends attracted to money and a good time, came to the place of realizing just how much he and lost (not just the money) and how deeply he had hurt his father. He had the whole talk prepared, rehearsed in his head every step of the long journey home: the apology that poured from a hard-born place of humility, the request to be considered a servant to the household where he was once a son and heir.
Remember, his father was waiting and watching, hoping every day just to have his son. Not an apology, not groveling, not a “you were right and I was so wrong, how could I be such a jerk” speech. But his son. Home. Safe. Present.
This father, wealthy and respected, ran- not walked, not stood and waited until his son got to him- full tilt and swept that beloved, filthy, smelly young man who had broken his heart into a full embrace before the kid could get those well-rehearsed words out. He hugged before the speech. Because that boy was his. And his boy came home.
I tear up as I type this. My loving Heavenly Father hugs me before the speech, because He already knows just how thoroughly I’ve blown it with my arrogance, my thoughtlessness, my willful plans. Yet He runs to me, sweeps me- smelly, filthy mistakes and all- up in His arms. He doesn’t wait until I have it all together, because, let’s face it, that won’t ever be the case. He Loves me where I am when I just turn to Him. Because I’m His. And His girl turned back home.
This heart of my Father, it makes me want to forgive like He does. I want to hug before the speech. I want to love like He loves. I want to be open to the people around me and not make them work so hard for my forgiveness because it’s been so freely given to me.
Our God rejoices over restored relationships, with Him and His children, and between His children here on earth. Don’t you want to be hugged before the speech? And doesn’t that make you want to be the one distributing pre-speech hugs yourself? Ask yourself where God seeks restoration in your relationships and where you can give that hug this week.