Watching my children enjoy summer takes me back to my childhood. I can recall the warm summer days when I played in the neighborhood with childhood friends. Each day was a new adventure. We played from dawn to dusk. At sunset, one by one the children would answer to the call of their parents to come home. My dad would whistle. No matter how far my journey carried me from home, my father knew that the sound of his whistle could be heard, recognized, and obeyed.
Responding to his call, I would jump on my bike and head for home. As my house came into view, my dad could be seen standing on the front porch waving. I didn’t realize it then, but he didn’t have to wait for me. Dad could have continued about his business. Instead, he displayed a father’s heart. Dad waited and watched until I was safely home. My arrival seemed to bring him joy. I knew this by the smile on his face and his open arms.
Jesus also revealed the Father’s heart toward us, His children, when he told the story about the Sheppard who left his entire flock to find one lost sheep. (Luke 15: 4, NKJ) In the same way, our heavenly Father is not only concerned with those who are safely in His flock but is most troubled about the one who has wandered away.
One summer, our six year old son went missing. The sun was setting, and like my dad, I stepped onto the porch and called for him. There was no response. Frantically, his dad and I searched door-to-door for him. House after house, all we found was disappointment. With flashlights in hand, our neighbors joined the search. Eventually we phoned the police. I felt my body go numb. We were living out our worst nightmare—our son was lost.
Before the police arrived, neighbor’s, returning home, stopped in front of the house. As the side door of their van slid open, there stood our son. The neighbor’s had taken him to the ballpark without our permission.
Our son was afraid his dad would be angry at him for going to the ballpark without permission. Instead, a he found the comfort of a father’s heart. With arms of love, my husband held our son tightly and rejoiced over his homecoming.
Perhaps you have wandered into a distant land and long to come home. You may feel lost for good, but God knows where you are. You have not escaped His attention. The Father knows His children and calls them by name. Those who follow Him will find their way home and be welcomed with open arms. With a Father’s heart, God is waiting and watching from the front porch of heaven for your return. If you don’t know what to say to Him, use the words from this hymn penned by William J. Kirkpatrick.
“[I’m] coming home, coming home, never more to roam; open wide your arms of love. Lord, I’m coming home.”
A special thanks to my dad on Father’s Day for always having an open heart and open arms.