Bedtime is always full of shenanigans around here – and most of the time, I rush through the bedtime routine with my youngest two kids because I’m ready for my own bed. But I have a different story from a recent night.
I was tucking in my 6-year-old Rachel. And by “tucking in,” I mean getting the blankets right, praying, singing, and answering 85 million questions. She asked if I’d read her story. That’s usually her daddy’s job, but he wasn’t home that evening, so I said okay. She had “The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones sitting right here, so I told her to pick out one of those stories.
“I want to read the pig sty one,” she said as she was already flipping the pages to find it.
When I saw what she meant, peace washed over me. “Oh, I love this one.” I read “Running Away,” which is retold from Luke 15, better known as The Prodigal Son.
A boy starts thinking he will be happier if his dad wasn’t telling him what to do. He wanted to look after himself. His father was sad, but he didn’t want to force him to stay. So the son went and did whatever he wanted to do until he runs out of money and gets a job feeding pigs. Being in this low spot, showed the boy maybe his dad’s home wasn’t so bad after all.
Then Lloyd-Jones writes: “The dad leaps off the porch, races down the hill, through the gap in the hedge, up the road. Before his son can even begin his I’m-Sorry-Speech, his dad runs to him, throws his arms around him, and can’t stop kidding him.” The father proceeds to have a party to celebrate his son’s homecoming.
“Jesus told people this story to show them what God is like. And to show people what they are like. So they could know, however far they ran, however well they hid, however lost they were – it wouldn’t matter,” Lloyd-Jones writes. “Because God’s children could never run too far, or be too lost, for God to find them.”
I was teary when I finished. While this Bible story was retold for children, the words brought to mind when I decided to follow Christ on Jan. 20, 1996, after hearing someone speak about The Prodigal Son during a Chrysalis weekend. I nailed some sins to a wooden cross in the sanctuary, representing surrender. I remember thinking of the beauty of the father welcoming his lost son home, understanding how the younger son thought he could hold together his own life, and relating to the older son who stayed and did what he was supposed to and found himself not quite willing to celebrate his brother’s homecoming.
I told Rachel an abbreviated version of that story of being a 16-year-old girl hearing that story and making a decision that truly changed my life. Here more than 26 years later, I’m thankful God welcomes me home over and over again. I’ve surrendered and squandered and sulked, and God keeps opening his arms, which led me to salvation initially and continually prompts surrender.
If you don’t know about “The Jesus Storybook Bible,” I definitely recommend it for the kids in your life. Let’s be honest, I love reading too and I’m thankful it’s back in the rotation around here.